Plastic Free July | Week One

Plastic Free July | Week One

July 01, 2019

Welcome to Plastic Free July!

At Time IV Change, we’re committed to making our business plastic free.  We aren’t quite there yet but we have come such a long way and we are actively exploring solutions to eliminate the last remaining plastic in our business.

For those of you who have been around for a while, you will know that our approach towards most things is: Small steps towards big changes.  Our approach to plastic free July will be no different.

Each day for the month of July we’ll be bringing you a small step that you can take in your everyday to help minimise, or eventually eliminate, plastic.

Throughout the month, we’d love for you to share your tips, tricks and wins.  But remember we aren’t seeking perfection and every little bit helps!

To officially join Plastic Free July, you can sign-up here: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/   The site is also full of useful information to help you remove plastics from your everyday life.

 Day One:  Plastic Shopping Bags

The Issue

It’s no longer a surprise that plastic bags damage our environment.   Wildlife can become ill or die after mistaking a plastic bag for food and the bags can break up over time creating microplastics that stay in the environment forever.

The Switch

Say no to single use bags and switch to reusable bags. 

Top Tips

  • Develop a system to make sure you don’t get stuck without your bag – perhaps return them to your car after each use, leave them at your front door or include a version that can roll-up in your handbag or back-pack.
  •  Most of us in Australia are now accustomed to taking our reusable bags to collect the groceries so why not extend this to all of your shopping? As many retailers are phasing out the use of single use plastics you’ll be ahead of the game whilst doing your bit for the planet!
  •  Where possible, invest in reusable bags made from natural or repurposed fabrics. Whilst still an improvement on single use plastic, the majority of reusable bags available for purchase at the checkout are ultimately still made of plastic.

The Impact

The team at Plastic Free July estimate that by switching to reusable bags, each individual could save up to 500 single use plastic bags every single year! 

 

Day Two:  Take Away Coffee Cups

The Issue

We love our morning coffee (or two) as much as the next person but unfortunately take away coffee cups are a no-go zone.  Unfortunately, most takeaway cups can’t be recycled (but if you do use them, double check with your council or waste collection agency) and therefore coffee cups take up a significant amount of landfill (or contaminates the recycling collection when incorrectly disposed).  Many cups or their lids end up as litter and find their way into our oceans and rivers.

The Switch

Say no to a takeaway cup – either drink in and use the café’s cup or BYO reusable cup if you are taking it away!

Top Tips

  • When you can, make time to skip the queues and take a seat to enjoy your coffee. You’ll most likely have a more enjoyable experience and of course your cup will be washed and reused.

 

  • If you go down the BYO path you don’t need to use anything fancy. Most cafes will be happy to use any old mug that you have at home.

 

  • If you do want to buy there are so many amazing options on the market that you’d be spoilt for choice! A couple of our Aussie favourites are: Pottery for the Planet, Keep Cup and Frank Green.

 

  • If you do forget – drink in or go without. For coffee addicts like me, going without once is enough to make sure you never forget again!

The Impact

I have at least one coffee a day – so by not using a taking away cup I can divert a whopping 365 cups and lids away from landfill.  What will your impact be?

Day Three:  Single Use Plastic Water Bottles

The Issue

 Single use plastic water bottles seem to be everywhere!  Only a handful make it to the recycling depot and even then, their fate can’t be assured with recent reports aired here in Australia showing bottles being sent overseas to be burned or end up in landfill.

 Those that don’t end up being recycled end up in landfill or the in environment, often injuring or killing wildlife.

 The Switch

 Refuse single use plastic water bottles and instead BYO.

Top Tips

  •  Carry a reusable water bottle with you. Ideally this would be made out of environmentally friendly material such as glass or stainless steel.

 

  • Before rushing out to buy something check your cupboards – use what you already have first.

 

  • If you forget – seek out a public drinking fountain (they becoming more and more common) or sit in and have a glass of tap water at your favourite café (this option tends to work better if you do buy something also).

 

  • If you do need to buy bottled water, look for alternatives sold in glass – you can then use this bottle for as long as possible

 

The Impact

According to The Guardian, 20,000 bottles of water are purchased every second globally.  Be one less person contributing to this demand and take the next step towards being plastic free.

 

Day Four:  Plastic Straws

The Issue

Plastic straws are the ultimate in waste.  They are used for literally a few minutes but stay on the planet forever.  They are lightweight and can easily blow or float into waterways and oceans where they can be mistake for food by birds and wildlife.

 

Top Tips

  •  Choose restaurants, cafes, bars and fast food outlets that have moved away from plastic straws

 

  • Request no straw for your drink when you order – remember you can also do this on food delivery apps!

 

  • BYO reusable straw

 

The Impact

In the USA alone, 500 million straws are used every single day!  Plastic straws are also reported to be one of the most common items found during beach and ocean clean-ups.  By going plastic free we can make a massive difference to our marine life.

Day Five: Reducing Plastic Wrapped Fruit and Vegetables

The Issue

Purchasing pre-packaged fruit and vegetables may mike life a little easier, however, it also creates a great deal of unnecessary plastic waste.

As we know, our recycling systems are under pressure and adding an unnecessary source of plastic adds to this burden.

Similar to other plastic products, a significant amount of fruit and vegetable wrappings end up in landfill where they will not break down or in our waterways in oceans causing illness or death to marine life.

Top Tips

  • Wherever possible, choose fruit and vegetable items that have not been pre-packaged

 

  • Consider whether you really do need to bag the items – quite a few items will be perfectly fine to be loose in your trolley or basket before they head to reusable bags

 

  • Shop at farmers market or your local fruit and vegetable shop where your items are less likely to be pre-packaged. Also look for outlets that may offer a plastic free alternative, such as paper, where you really need it.

 

  •  BYO reusable, lightweight produce bags

 

Day Six: Reducing plastics in the bread aisle

The Issue

If your supermarket looks anything like mine, the bread aisle is plastics galore.  The plastic bags used to contain bread can easily end up in our waterways and oceans where they are mistaken for food and bread ties are the very definition of micro plastic.

The Solution

  • Shop at stores, bakeries and local markets that have paper packaging option
  • Select options that have not been pre-packed (these are available at many stores) and BYO reusable bread back to take them home with you.

Day Seven:  Week One Recap & Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

So you made through week one!  We'd love to know how you found it.   As a recap, the swaps we had this were:

1) Saying no to plastic bags by bringing along your own reusable option

2) Refusing single use coffee cups by drinking in or brining along your own

3) Switching single use plastic bottles for your own refillable water bottle.

4) Saying goodbye to plastic straws by going without or brining your own sustainable option.

5) Avoiding plastic wrapped fruit and veggies by bringing your own reusable bags or letting your fruit go free!

6) Reducing plastics for your bread and bakery goods by selecting options wrapped in paper or bringing along your own reusable bread bag.

For most of this week we've been focussing on eliminating plastics, but what about the ones we already have?

Reuse

Give your existing plastics a second life by reusing them whenever possible.  For items you can't use personally look at donating them to charity stores or listing them on buy swap and sell sites where they can be given a second life by others.

Recycle

Whilst reducing is the best option, proper recycling is so important for managing the plastic that does exist.

You can help by ensuring that you follow the instructions for your local council or waste management authority so that you don't contaminate the collection.  For items out of the ordinary you may need to get in touch with collection companies such as TerraCycle who specialise in recycling difficult to recycle products.

Well done on making a difference!  Remember that every little bit helps and that we are aiming for progress over perfection.



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