31 July 2020
Plastic Free July #SimpleSwaps that you can use all year round!
Plastic Free July encourages people to make small changes to everyday habits to use less plastic, ultimately reducing the amount of plastic waste in landfills.
There are lots of environmentally friendly, sustainable alternatives to using plastics– at the end of the day, contributing to waste minimisation comes down to the choices that you make.
Simple swaps don’t require you to sacrifice convenience or make a huge effort to be more sustainable. For example, wrapping a sandwich in a paper bag instead of plastic cling-film means you can compost the bag once you’re done, and the natural fibres of the paper can be broken down and returned to the soil. Cling-film would be put into a rubbish bin, end up in landfill, and remain stagnant in the ground for decades until it finally broke down into smaller pieces of plastic. Imagine how much plastic you could save from going into the ground, just by wrapping your lunch in paper?
It may look like a small amount of cling film to use in one day… BUT if you used a 30-centimetre length of cling-film to wrap your sandwiches every weekday, and had a full-time job from the time you were 18 until you turned 65, you would dispose of 3,666 metres of plastic. That is the length of 36 rugby fields just from your lunchtime sandwiches!
The most important thing to remember for Plastic Free July is that the challenge is about using less plastic, and you don’t have to be entirely plastic free (but extra points if you already are or aim to be!)
Here are some examples of the many plastic-free decisions that you could make each day, not just during July:
- Brush your teeth with a bamboo toothbrush, instead of a plastic one. (The brush fibres on some bamboo toothbrushes can be plastic, so try to find one with natural fibres.) To reduce your plastic use even further, you could make your own toothpaste from a baking soda mix, instead of brushing your teeth with toothpaste from a plastic tube.
- Shower with a cotton flannel and bar of soap, instead of a plastic loofah and shower gel from a plastic bottle. To wash your hair, try a shampoo bar. You can buy these from supermarkets or specialty boutiques. They usually come in cardboard packaging that you could recycle, put in a worm farm or compost.
- Pack your lunch into a reusable cloth bag instead of a plastic lunch box.
- If you wanted a barista coffee with your lunch, why not sit down and enjoy your coffee at the café, or take your coffee away in a keep cup instead of using a plastic-lined takeaway coffee cup.
- Throughout the day, drink from a re-usable metal drink bottle instead of buying a disposable plastic bottle of water. (Most metal drink bottles do have a small amount of plastic in the lid.)
- When at the supermarket, opt for fruit and veges that are not packaged in plastic, and collect them in a cotton mesh bag instead of using the plastic produce bags on offer.
Plastic Free July is a global movement that aims to reduce plastic pollution. As mentioned above, it’s not just for July – there are small choices we can make every day of the year to be kinder to our planet.
Visit the Plastic Free July website for more information, or check out any of these awesome resources:
Plastic Free July Aotearoa Facebook Page
The Rubbish Trip
Love Food Hate Waste