What is Plastic Free July?
It is that time of year again when we all come together to reduce our plastic use by participating in the global movement that is Plastic Free July. It all originated here in Australia, having been started by a small team in Western Australia. Plastic Free July has now become one of the most influential environmental campaigns around the world. Establishing itself as an independent, non-for-profit organisation in 2017, Plastic Free July is a key initiative of the Plastic Free Foundation that allows us to work towards our vision of seeing a world free of plastic waste.
Plastic Free July has had such an incredible impact around the world, and is a true example of how a small group of people can really create a world of change. In July 2020 alone, it was estimated that 326 million people across the globe took part in the challenge from 177 countries. While the challenge is to be plastic-free for the month of July, many people who take part every year have committed to reducing their plastic pollution far beyond the month of July.
So, where do we start?
Reducing plastic can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task, and we get it, the facts are scary. Humans are so addicted to plastics that we are producing over 380 million tons of plastic every year! With some reports indicating that up to 50% of that production is for single-use purposes, it can really feel like we are living in a plastic world.
Believe us - it doesn’t need to be a daunting task. We at Panamuna are here to help, and we are going to offer you practical tips to tackle your plastic problem. Don’t worry you won’t be doing it alone, we will be doing it right along with you the best way we know how, by taking it step-by-step. Every day in July we will be posting on our Instagram story tips on how you can swap plastic for a more environmentally friendly alternative. We are going to start with easy swaps that some of you might alreadybe doing and build up to more advanced tips. This will help us all reduce our plastic and not feel overwhelmed with the task ahead.
Before we start
However, before we start Plastic Free July, let’s talk about how we can prepare for Plastic Free July. Here are some tips on what to do before we start our month-long challenge:
Use what you already have
The first mistake people often make when trying to be more eco-conscious is to buy new environmentally friendly products. This can actually be more damaging, as it can create more waste, and therefore more items that will end up in landfill. This defeats the whole purpose of Plastic Free July. One of the best ways to be more eco-conscious is to use what you already have rather than buy new products. So, to prepare for Plastic Free July, have a look around at home and see what items you can use before rushing off to buy new plastic-free items.
Another good way to prepare is to do some research. The more we research, the more we can become aware of how plastic impacts the environment and the more we can learn different ways of how to change our own actions for the better. So, before you start your Plastic Free July challenge, research why plastic is bad for the environment, research the best ways to decrease your plastic use, research ideas on how to make your own products, and research how to deliver this information to others.
Wash jars ready for storage
In order to get ready to start bulk food shopping (a great way to reduce your plastic and a tip we will talk about in more detail later in the month on our Instagram stories), use this time to wash all the jars you have (peanut butter jars, jam jars, whatever ones you have) and get them ready to store food. Having jars washed and ready to go will make us more likely to use them when we need to do our shopping. Plus, a jar can always be stored in your bag or car and used as a reusable coffee mug if you accidentally forget yours.
Get your reusables ready
As we said above, it is estimated that 50% of the 380 million tons of plastic we produce each year is due to single-use purposes. Reusable bags, coffee cups, cutlery and straws are so easy to use and to have on hand, and are a simple yet effective way to cut out your single-use plastics. One of the best ways to make sure you always use your reusables is to have them ready-to-go, always washed and accessible. Keep some in your car so you always have them on you ready to be used, wash them as soon as you get home and put them straight back in your car.
Being organised is another great way to stay plastic-free. By organising your shopping, meal prepping, and container washing, you are more likely to use less plastic and the amount of waste you create will likely decrease.
Clean out your wardrobe
Sometimes we need to declutter our wardrobe, not to make room for new clothes, but to live a simpler, plastic-free lifestyle. Currently people are buying 60% more clothes then back in the 2000s, but only wearing them for a fraction of the time. Don’t worry, we have all bought clothes that we don’t actually need or wear, but use this time to donate these clothes by allowing them to have a second life. With nearly 90% of clothing material ending up dumped in nature or landfall, by donating your clothes to someone else, you might stop them purchasing a fast fashion garment as well as diverting the clothes from landfill.
Connect with nature
We know we have said this a lot, but it is so important. People really protect what they love, so it is so important to connect to nature before attempting a challenge to protect it. Before Plastic Free July starts, step outside, take in that clean air, put your feet in the ocean, or take a stroll through the trees, and connect with the very thing you are decreasing your plastic use for, Mother Earth.
Talk to others
Lastly, remember to talk to others. This is probably one of the most powerful actions you can take to fight the war on plastics. Knowledge is key, and we can spread knowledge just by communicating with each other. So, talk to your family and friends about Plastic Free July and try to get them involved too. Also, get tips and advice from those who have done it before - we can always learn something new from each other.
Continuing your plastic-free life
While the Plastic Free July challenge technically only runs for the month, we encourage you to continue with reducing your use of plastic beyond the end of the month. During July, we will be posting a new plastic-free tip each day on our Instagram story, and we are encouraging each and every one of you to adopt as many of these tips into your everyday eco-routine as you can so that we can aim to all be less plastic dependent well after Plastic Free July has ended.
Interested in joining us for the challenge? You can register here.