Can you go for a day, a week, or the perhaps whole of July without buying single-use plastic? This is the challenge being put forward by the Plastic Free July campaign (www.plasticfreejuly.org). Over 1 million people in 130 countries have signed up to participate. I've signed up again to challenge myself to explore new ways to diminish plastic in my family's life. Will you? It deeply troubles me how much damage our society is causing with everyday waste and the culture of disposability. Living a simpler life, a permaculture way of life, does dramatically reduce plastic dependence, but there is always more we can do, and more we need to do. The planet is drowning in plastic. Tonight on my Simple Living segment on ABC Radio Queensland's Evenings show, I chatted with host Trevor Jackson about this issue. You can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/user-523529725/choose-to-refuse-single-use-plastic-plastic-free-july
12 things to consider about single use plastic
Here's a dozen fact to keep in mind when we're making decisions about what to buy:
6% of the world's fossil fuels are used to make plastic
from 2000-2010 1 billion tonnes of plastic was made - same amount as between 1950-2000
half the world's plastics are used once before going to landfill
8 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year - that's like putting five bags of plastic trash on every foot of coastline in the world.
Almost 75% of the plastic found in the oceans is single-use (food wrappers, food containers, caps and lids, plastic bags, polystyrene...)
90% of sea birds have eaten plastic, 50% of turtles have too
1 million sea bird and 100,000 turtles die from eating plastic and becoming entangled each year.
5 billion plastic lined coffee cups are used each year
4.7 billion toothbrushes are made each year. They'll last around 1000 years.
each person on the planet uses around 700 plastic bags a year each
it takes around 5 litres of water and a litre of oil to make a litre of bottled water
In Australia, we use almost 120,000 tonnes of plastic drink bottles each year.
Image Source: CSIRO
What will it take to dramatically cut down on throw-away plastic?
Personal commitment to change - educating ourselves, planning well, persevering
New government legislation and taxes
We can impact change in our sphere of influence, and that is different for us all. Out and about, in our home, at work, at school, in our community ...
Single use plastic is a massive problem in the world, and while many of us are aware consumers, we still manage to come home with more single-use plastic than we'd hoped because it is just everywhere! Some simple steps to reduce single-use plastic waste:
Grow more food
Choose to shop at farmers markets and CSAs (community supported agriculture programs), and bulk food stores.
Store leftovers in jars or reusable lidded containers
Make more things from scratch and pack food to take out with you.
Choose biodegradable options
Take our own cups and bottles or slow down and have a cuppa in a ceramic cup.
Pick up rubbish we see around.
Plastic free veggies and herbs from my garden - freshly harvested for dinner.
Choose to Refuse
Choose to Refuse is the theme of this year's Plastic Free July campaign. The idea really is that we use this time to change habits and then continue on with less plastic in our lives. Since signing on last July with my family, there are lots of things I no longer buy such as: plastic wrapped toilet paper, shampoo or conditioner, hand soap, laundry liquid, dishwashing liquid, take away coffee cups, plastic straws, microfibre clothing... and more.
Are you going to try it?
What new ways do you think you could help reduce the use of single use plastic in the world?