Plastic-Free July is primarily aimed at the damaging scourge of single-use plastics and looks to teach people about ways to live with less or no single-use plastics in their lives.
Plastic-Free July covers both reusable and truly biodegradable items as they can be reused, and implemented to reduce plastic waste that will otherwise hang around for hundreds of years.
The theme of this month has been conceptualised with the goal of educating people on the dangers of single-use plastics for humans, animals, and ultimately, the entire ecosystem of our planet
More importantly, it doesn’t just tell us we need to be better! It also challenges people to live single-use plastic-free for the month - then see which new habits can carry over!
There are some very simple ways we can get involved and play our part.
Remember, it doesn’t take one person being perfect to make progress on these issues - but hundreds of millions doing it imperfectly. So even though we’d definitely give you a gold star for using absolutely no single-use plastic through the month, we also recognise it can be difficult!
It’s no secret anymore - Plastic pollution is causing massive harm to the planet. They harm everything from the air to humans! And whether we can visibly see the dangers or not, it’s simply impossible to deny that they’re there.
At this point, humans have done decades of research into this - but in perspective, most of the world only began acting on our information recently.
Look, we’re not demonising plastic. There’s no way to deny that it has its place. It’s really our fault. The trend of single-use plastic includes things like plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic lids, plastic wrappers on fruit and veg, and they are certainly causing overall net harm. But what’s so bad about single-use plastic?
For the animals, it often means that they end up choking to death - land and sea animals alike. Birds, cats, and last but not least, marine life. It’s common to see seals and penguins with those old, plastic 6-pack ring holders for beer that still haven’t broken down decades later.
Animals are also consuming microplastics in their water. Marine life would suffer the most from this, but now even land animals are drinking water that’s been contaminated with microplastics. Research has shown that there may be a variety of consequences for animals, such as blocked digestive tracts and infertility.
They may also end up with serious risks from the runoff from manufacturing that often ends up in oceans. It releases dioxins, phthalates, vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride, lead, cadmium and other toxic chemicals during production. This can end up in the waters that our poor animal friends are living in!
For humans, it most notably means consuming microplastics.
Did you know the average person consumes around 5 grams of microplastics every week? That’s how much a credit card weighs.
Research has shown that consuming too many microplastics (which evidently, most people will) can cause oxidative stress, inflammatory lesions, neurotoxicity, and even increase cancer risks in humans.
For the rivers, oceans, and farmlands it means pollution from chemicals and emissions. Due to this, it often causes the depletion of soil quality.
So not only is soil being loaded with chemical pesticides, insecticides, and fertilisers… the soil microbiome is also being spent trying to break down plastics into microplastics, and microplastics into nano plastics… and from there, we have no idea what happens - this is a 21st-century problem, so we’re swimming in uncharted waters here. And those waters are polluted with microplastics.
The oceans and waterways cop it the worst. The toxic runoff and litter end up here, and it’s not pretty - literally and metaphorically. Have you seen the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
The Ocean and Waterways see all these damages in a variety of ways:
On top of that, manufacturing plastic produces an incredible amount of emissions and even uses fossil fuels. It’s speculated that around 2% of fossil fuels burned every year are attributed to plastic production. So it’s safe to say that plastic also reduces the quality of the air we breathe.
Do we bet by now you’re asking what you can do to help lessen the burden on the planet?
Here are 8 ways you can reduce single-use plastics this plastic-free July!
1. Get a reusable mug/keep cup instead of disposable cups with plastic lids. These are often silicon and can always be cleaned at the end of the day, ready for the next! Some cafes even offer discounts for bringing your own mug
2. Use fabric grocery bags instead of plastic. This saves you money, and the ecosystem a lot of hassle! No more 15c Coles bags. Just grab your fabric bags & go!
3. Use metal straws instead of plastic straws. Plastic straws are almost always single-use and make up a relatively large portion of plastic pollution on earth - especially considering their size.
4. Use Wood and Bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic. Wood and bamboo are biodegradable and you can dispose of them without a guilty conscience!
5. Plan ahead and bring produce bags to the bakery. In fact, this could also be “Shop at bakeries and bring your own produce bags”. This is much more eco-friendly than putting bread in plastic bags that you throw out every week.
6. Reuse, reduce, recycle. Any plastics that you do buy should have a solid lifespan! Make sure you can reuse it, that it reduces the amount of plastic that you buy, and that it’s recycled at the end of its life.
8. Use Reusable food storage containers instead of disposable ones. You know, the flimsy ones in your fridge that make it so easy to just prep the week’s meals, eat them, and throw them in the bin as you go.
Like any item on earth, ‘things’ aren’t inherently bad - it’s the way we use them that needs adjustment. Single-use plastics are the scourge of the planet; the unnoticed plague that we’ve been spreading all across the earth.
From our own backyard to the 1.7 Million square kilometres of trash that society has dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it’s everywhere. It’s in wild animals, it’s in our pets, and it’s in us.
We can’t undo the damage that’s been done, but we can control how much we do from now on. That’s why Plastic Free July is so important, and that’s why we’re calling on you to join us.