Tips for reducing soft plastics this Plastic Free July
What is Plastic Free July?
Plastic Free July is an initiative which has grown globally from the Australian-based Plastic Free Foundation, determined to change behaviours and consumer choices to break free from our contemporary plastic addiction. Plastic Free July challenges participants to take a month-long break from single-use plastics: those items that give people a few minutes of convenience and the earth an eternal piece of waste. With 120 million participants joining the cause globally, the movement to reduce our plastic use is growing significantly, as we are becoming more aware of the need for more environmentally conscious decision making.
Different people will tackle the challenge at different levels of commitment, based on their plastic dependency and their interest in pursuing a plastic-free lifestyle. Regardless of how much a person forgoes, by giving up a part of your lifestyle (even as little as plastic lined coffee cups!) you become more aware of how much plastic is being used, and how simple it can be to evade it.
Why Reducing Plastic Use is Important
Everywhere we look in our workplaces, shops and homes we can find plastic with varying lifespans based on fashion and functions, but all with the same physical lifespan – infinity. The reality of plastic is that every piece ever created continues to exist somewhere in the world, whether in a functional object or littering our land and oceans, so the obvious choice is to reduce our use. Each person, though seemingly small, can have a huge impact on the environment, every bit counts and every time we spend money, we’re casting a vote for the type of world we’d like to live in, so spend wisely!
How to Reduce Soft Plastic Use
Whilst many types of hard plastic can be recycled in your yellow bin at home, soft plastics are more difficult to keep out of landfill. Stopping our use of soft plastic can be daunting to many however doesn’t need to be scary. It often just requires conscious consumer choices and swapping out the marginally more convenient plastic for sustainable natural materials.
Bring a keep cup to your local café, tupperware to your deli and paper or fabric bread bags to the bakery. Half of going plastic-free is remembering your own reusables. If you forget, look for alternatives that will save the day. i.e. Forgot your mesh produce bags? Grab a brown paper mushroom bag for your other produce.
2. Question if you really NEED that plastic
Does that bunch of bananas really need a plastic bag over its natural, biodegradable and peelable skin? Can you carry those couple of groceries in your own bag or in your hands? Going plastic free is a massive behaviour change for some people and can require a bit of thought, so look out for opportunities everywhere, starting with the shops, so those plastics don’t make their way into your home or office.
3. Look for more eco-friendly alternatives
Look for alternatives to your usual soft plastic purchases that are made from natural or biodegradable materials. For example, look for pasta that comes in a cardboard box instead of plastic packaging. You can also purchase plastic-free toilet paper in bulk that comes in a cardboard box rather than plastic film (check out Who Gives A Crap toilet paper). If you can’t find an alternative to soft plastic packaging, remember to collect your clean and dry soft plastics at home for recycling through Plastic Police.
4. Move towards wax wraps and let go of cling wrap
Going plastic-free doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the freshness of your food. Consider purchasing some bees wax wraps to store your food in or seal a bowl of leftovers with, or make your own fabric sandwich wraps.
5. Work with what you’ve got
Don’t be hard on yourself for your previous attachment to plastic, but move forward with what you already own. Going plastic free doesn’t mean throwing out all your stored plastic bags or leftover rolls of cling wrap, but using and reusing what you have already, before recycling and sourcing more sustainable solutions in the future.
Keep up the great work, and remember – every little bit counts!