Plastic has various uses, many of which are extremely valuable to society as we know it. However, the world’s addiction to single-use and disposable plastic is causing irreversible effects on the environment.
This article will focus on why we need to reduce our plastic usage and how Plastic Free July helps raise awareness.
What is Plastic Free July?
Plastic Free July is a designated day in July that helps the world work together to be free of plastic waste.
The day initially started in 2011 and has continued to grow ever since. Last year, 326 million people took part from 177 countries. This saw households reducing their waste by almost 5% per person and contributed to a total saving of 940 million kg of plastic waste each year.
Although you may think, “what is the point if it’s only for a month?”, around eight out of ten people committed to making changes in their habits and way of life.
How does plastic pollution impact the environment?
Plastic pollution impacts animals, plants, and humans through toxic chemicals and pollutants. Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down, with some plastics never completely disappearing.
What’s more, the ocean is becoming filled with plastic and other waste. This results in polluted water and the death of sea life, with 100,000 marine mammals dying every year because of plastic pollution.
As mentioned, humans can also suffer from plastic pollution. Toxic chemicals spread throughout the food chain, and humans end up ingesting small plastic particles. In fact, one study found that we eat the equivalent of one Lego brick per week.
How can I get involved with Plastic Free July?
Anyone can get involved with Plastic Free July. Whether you want to start out small, with one swap, or really challenge yourself to completely giving up plastic this month, we have listed ideas below for you to try.
Use a reusable water bottle
Instead of buying a bottle of water at the shop, you could invest in a reusable water bottle. This way, you are avoiding single-use plastic and you’ll save money too.
Use reusable straws
In bars, cafes and restaurants, plastic straws often come with a drink. As they are lightweight, they are easily blown down drains and end up in rivers or oceans. By always having a reusable straw, you avoid using the plastic straws offered.
If possible, request a drink made without a plastic straw; if you do this after your drink has arrived – the straw will likely be thrown away as waste anyway.
Consider a bamboo toothbrush
By buying a toothbrush made of sustainable material, such as bamboo, you can reduce the amount of plastic waste produced.
However, bristles are often made from plastic. If you want to recycle a bamboo toothbrush handle, you will need to cut the bristles off.
Buy your shopping in bulk
Where possible, aim to buy your shopping in bulk. This means you can avoid small journeys to the local shop and avoid the amount of plastic packaging used.
By creating a shopping list and only going to the shop once a week, you also cut down on emissions and lower your carbon footprint!
Assess your waste solutions
All around the streets, there is litter. By litter picking for even just five minutes this Plastic Free July, you are helping prevent plastic from polluting the environment.
If you can’t commit a certain amount of time, if you see some litter in your garden, just put it in the relevant bin on the way past. This takes no time at all but can make a big impact on reducing plastic pollution.
Engage those around you
Plastic Free July isn’t just about making swaps and reducing plastic. By spreading the word about plastic pollution and encouraging those around you to raise their awareness and make changes, you could make a more significant impact than you think.
Stick to the four R’s
The Four R’s are crucial to reducing plastic pollution and waste management in general. They stand for: refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle.
By following all those actions, you will reduce plastic pollution and, in turn, manage all your other waste effectively.
Although all the Four 4’s are important, for Plastic Free July, “Refuse” is crucial. By refusing to buy individually packed items and single-use plastics, you help the movement progress.
Plastic Free July is a great opportunity to try new things and raise awareness about plastic pollution. Plastic free packaging and products are becoming increasingly popular. By finding zero waste shops or shopping online, you’ll be able to find some great alternatives.
Whether you make any changes, big or small, you are helping the environment and encourage others to make an effort too.