Plastic Free July has inspired over 120 million people around the world to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics, empowering people to be part of solving our growing plastic pollution plague.
For those who are new to the plastic-free movement, it can be intimidating to know where to start. We've compiled ten tips for you to change your habits and behaviour for a plastic-free July -- and beyond.
1. Carry an everyday reusables kit
Spend some time thinking about your daily habits and what single-use plastics you might use on an average day or week. Create a personal everyday reusables kit using items found in your house or sustainably sourced.
- Get takeaway for your lunchbreak? Carry a set of utensils from home in your bag. Wrap them in a cloth to keep them clean throughout the day.
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day. Bring it with you in a tote bag or backpack in case you need a carry bag for any unexpected purchases.
- Purchase a metal straw and reusable coffee cup to keep in your work bag in case you have a juice or coffee during the day.
- Bring a spare tupperware container in your bag for that sushi you like getting on your way home. Pack your own small container of soy sauce, or put soy sauce straight into your sushi from the shop, rather than accepting the pesky soy sauce fish.
2. Do a bin audit
Go through your landfill bin with your family to identify what single-use plastics your household uses the most. Then, brainstorm together to find ways on how to avoid these plastics. Engaging the whole family in this process will help them feel ownership and responsiblity over the problem and doing something about it. Focus on the 'low hanging fruit' - the items that are easiest to phase out from your lifestyles.
Also do an audit of your recycling bin to make sure no non-recyclable plastics have found their way there. Remember - recycling isn't enough to solve our plastic pollution problem! Read more about conducting a bin audit at home or at work.
3. Tackle one area at a time
Rather than going plastic-free across your whole life straight away, consider segmenting different parts of your life and going plastic-free in each, one by one.
- Go grocery shopping plastic-free, using reusable bags and avoiding items packaged in plastic
- Pack plastic-free lunches and snacks
- Phase out plastic packaging in your bathroom as you finish using the products you already have
- Create plastic-free cleaning or hygiene products
"Lucky Straws" by @BryanMMathers
4. Say no to plastic packaging for fresh produce
Nature already packages a lot of our fresh produce for us - refuse fruits and vegetables that have been packed in plastic. Bring your own reusable produce bags to carry fruits and vegetables.
Shopping at farmers' markets is generally more sustainable than shopping at supermarkets, as you can then also avoid any plastic that may be used when produce is being transported from source to store.
5. Get creative and make your own bin liners or food wraps
Choose to refuse plastic bin liners and plastic cling wrap.
- Products that are marketed as sustainable are often just as damaging to the environment than regular plastic bin liners. Biodegradable bags still release greenhouse gases when in landfill, and compostable bags only break down in specific composting facilities, of which very few exist in Australia.
- It only takes a few minutes to make a newspaper bin liner. Watch this quick video for simple instructions.
- Avoid plastic cling wrap by storing food in tupperware containers, purchasing sustainable and reuseable food wraps, or by making your own beeswax wraps.
6. Strategically place your reminders
It's happened to all of us - we get to the supermarket and realise we've left our bags at home. Place your reminders in strategic places to stop this happening to you.
- Change your phone wallpaper to a reminder message so you remember to pack your reuseables.
- Keep your reuseables together at your door, next to your car door, or in your front seat, so you see them just before you go out.
- Stick a sticky note on your keys so you remember to bring your reusables when you head out the door.
Comic by Break Free From Plastic.
7. Raise your voice for systemic change
All levels of society need to play their part in reducing plastic pollution. Keep your local businesses accountable to eliminating single-use plastics by applying pressure on them to transition to more sustainable business practices.
Engage with local and state government policies and events to create more widespread change. Many councils run events during Plastic Free July to engage with the community. These are good opportunities to have conversations with local policymakers to discuss ways to further the plastic-free movement. Beyond July, take part in community submissions or forums run by local councils to ensure that waste reduction is on the agenda. Support groups like the EcoCentre and our affiliates, who engage in large-scale advocacy.
8. Reconnect with why it matters
There's no better way to reinvigorate for the fight against plastic pollution than by reconnecting with why you're passionate about it.
- Watch (or re-watch) War on Waste for a holistic picture of Australia's waste crisis, free on ABC iview.
- Spend some time in the bush or on the coast. Immerse yourself in nature to see what we're fighting to protect.
- If you don't have time to venture out to nature, watch our 90 second video showcasing the beauty of our Bay.
9. Do the challenge with a friend
Going plastic-free is easier with a friend. Share tips with them, celebrate little wins, and build a sense of accountability. It's easy to sign up online for the challenge with a friend.
10. Share your learnings with a plastic-free picnic
Celebrate a successful Plastic Free July by hosting a plastic-free picnic or lunch with your friends. You can use this opportunity to share learnings you've had through the month, empowering your loved ones to reduce their plastic use as they see how they can make conscious choices to refuse plastic. Read this guide on hosting a plastic free picnic for your community.
Congratulations on making the choice to refuse plastic this month, and hopefully into the future! We're fighting for a plastic-free Bay and are glad you're coming on this journey with us.