Jane Kern Senior Consultant - Corporate Affairs
Why Plastic Free July?
Scientists estimate that if we carry on as usual there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.
According to the Plastic Free July campaign, Australian households use around 100kg of plastic packaging each year. The campaign is cutting that down – asking people to choose to refuse single-use plastics for the month of July.
To help you get started, the Plastic Free July website has a list of actions you can take to avoid single-use plastics.
A quick scan tells me that I’m doing OK on the basics: KeepCup – check; reusable shopping bag – check; refillable water bottle – check.
There are some here that seem quite hard though, like plastic packaging for meat, and supermarket products like dry goods or cleaning products. Normally I put that packaging into the recycling and don’t think any further about it. Could I be avoiding it in the first place?
What will I do this July?
There are five single-use plastic items that I’m cutting out during Plastic Free July:
1. Milk containers
Milk cartons! Remember those? My supermarket doesn’t stock as many brands in cartons, but they are there, and they’re just as easy to use as plastic bottles.
2. Bagged dry foods
Normally I buy dry foods like oats, grains and dried fruit in plastic from the supermarket. I’ve just tried my first shop at a bulk store (a store at which you can scoop products into your own reusable containers) – it was great. They had most things I wanted, and I didn’t end up with any single-use packaging at all.
3. Bottled cleaning products
Same as bagged dry foods – I’d never thought about another way to buy these. I picked up some dishwashing powder at the bulk store, and saw that they’ve got plenty of other products like washing detergent and dishwashing liquid too.
At the bakery I go to they normally put sliced bread into a plastic bag. They have paper bags though, and were happy to pack in paper when I asked.
5. Meat or fish
This one I’m still working on. I’ve tried asking at a couple of butchers – both of whom were happy to pack in paper, but used the plastic bag to pick up the meat. Understandable for hygiene reasons, but I’ll be curious to see whether I can find a way around it.
My Plastic Free July hasn’t been perfect, but it’s given a great reason to rethink the habits we take for granted – and to pluck up the courage to ask the butcher and the baker to do things differently.
For more ideas on what to cut out during Plastic Free July, download the action picker here.