Welcome to Plastic Free July! Originally a small initiative starting in Australia, Plastic Free July is now a global event, with over two million people from 159 countries signing up to take part in the challenge to live without single-use plastic for a whole month.
Although in its eighth year, 2018 feels like the first year that Plastic Free July is representing a truly mainstream movement. From the European Union looking to get approval by May 2019 to ban ten of the most common single-use plastic items, to India’s huge announcement that they are seeking to eliminate all single-use plastics by 2022, plastic pollution is firmly on the global political agenda.
After years of campaigning by charities, NGOs and the public, it’s amazing to see governments and global organisations taking real action. But you only need to look around you in every shop, street and home to see that single-use plastic is still very much embedded in our day-to-day lives, which is why challenges like Plastic Free July are so important. Political change is slow, whereas we as individuals can take steps right now to prevent unnecessary plastic pollution and waste.
So to kick things off, I’ve made a list of simple swaps you may want to try, one for each day of July:
I sauntered into Plastic Free July thinking “It’ll be so easy this year. I’ve had way more practice, and I’m totally prepared for this.” Ha! is what I have to say to me on that; plastic is everywhere and it’s been pursuing me relentlessly like a mosquito on a summer evening.
The picture at the top is the plastic I’ve accidentally acquired this week, and it’ll be living in my hallway until the end of the month when I can survey the shame all together. So, here we go:
My walk to work takes me four and half miles from north London to central London. Unsurprisingly, I see quite a lot of rubbish on my way. And it really, really angers me. Partly I’m angry because in addition to there being lots of rubbish in London, there’s also lots of bins, ideal for putting the rubbish in. But I’m more angry because so much of the rubbish is unnecessary, and exists because it’s more convenient than a version of that product that doesn’t require the generation of waste – water bottles, sandwich packets, plastic bags.To me this represents the root of the reason that we’re a planet rapidly filling up with plastic waste that’s destroying wildlife and polluting the oceans – because as a society, convenience wins. This is the norm, but it isn’t OK and it has to stop.
It’s the most wonderful time…of the year! No, not Christmas, it’s Plastic Free July 🙂
Plastic Free July is an Australian initiative, but people from all around the world take part. It’s been running since 2011, and the PFJ website says that in 2014 ‘over 14,000 individuals, schools, businesses and organisations from 69 countries participated’.
I was already pretty enthusiastic about sustainability and environmental issues before I discovered Plastic Free July. But it was taking part in PFJ last year that really hit it home to me quite how much plastic there is. It’s in everything (I’m looking at you, microbeads). It’s around everything (almost every foodstuff in every supermarket). Then, once you have your stuff containing and surrounded by plastic, you put it in more plastic, in the form of a flimsy, easily-ripped bag, take it home and then either stuff it in the back of the cupboard, or it goes straight into the recycling, never to be used again. Possibly, it’ll be used as a bin liner to hold other bits of plastic before it goes to join all the other unloved bits of plastic in a landfill. Continue reading “Coming to a calender near you… Plastic Free July!”→