Freelance writer and photographer with an interest in science communication. Always looking for new experiences and discoveries!
Will You Take the Challenge?
They say from little things big things grow and this sums up Plastic Free July perfectly. Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives, then challenges people to do something about it. An initiative of the Western Metropolitan Regional Council in Western Australia, Plastic Free July was developed by the Earth Carers staff in 2011. Since then it has well and truly gone global; in 2014 people from 69 countries took part!
It might be surprising to hear that Australians are one of the highest per-capita producers of waste in the world. Furthermore, Clean Up Australia estimate that around 50 million plastic shopping bags enter the Australian litter stream every year. It's sobering to think that every piece of plastic ever produced still remains somewhere on the earth today.
Plastic Free July asks us to step back and think about how much single-use plastic waste we create over the course of our day. Then, it challenges us to go plastic-free for a day, week, or the whole month. The focus is on single-use plastic, rather than plastic per se. So, this includes plastic shopping bags, cups, straws, plastic packaging... anything that's intended to be used just once and then discarded. If refusing all single-use plastic sounds too daunting you can also try the top four challenge: plastic bags, bottles, takeaway coffee cups, and straws.
l>"Whilst the challenge may seem daunting, there are some really simple ways to cut down on plastic. This includes using reusable containers, saying no to straws and carrying reusable shopping bags," said Plastic Free July co-creator, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz.
Apart from the waste factor, there are plenty of other reasons why we need to take single-use plastic seriously. Some include the issue of micro-plastics (which now fill our oceans), potential impacts on human health, and the devastating impact of litter on the natural environment.
Plastic Free July
You'll find some swaps are easy, others take more effort, and many you will make permanent. Either way, I can say from experience that the challenge is completely worthwhile. To register for the challenge as an individual, organisation, or school go the the Plastic Free July website. There you will find plenty of resources and information, as well as tools for running an event if you like. Sharing your experience is also a big part of the process, so join in on social media and tell your friends too. And remember it's a challenge, not a competition!