Plastic Free July (PFJ) began officially in 2011. Plastic Free July® is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. 2021 marks the 11th official year of Plastic Free July. The movement has inspired approximately 326 million participants in 177 different countries to join the PFJ challenge (2020 figures). The aim is to be supported to reduce single use plastic waste everyday at home, school and in your local community (including cafes). Participants have been able to:
+ Reduce their household waste and recycling by 21kg per person per year (almost 5%) + 8.5 out of 10 people made changes that have become habits/a way of life
+ Contribute to a total saving of 940 million kg of plastic waste each year (source: Plastic Free July).
As I embark on another Plastic Free July and witness the world slowly becoming more environmentally conscious; yet, in my opinion (and the scientists), not moving fast enough, I believe we all need to step up. We cannot wait for the Australian government to catch up and tackle the plastic crisis. I wholeheartedly believe that it’s up to the local community to create change needed in order to help our oceans, and I think individual actions is where this begins. So, why does it matter if you reduce your individual plastic consumption? Well, there’s many answers to this - but the best answer is the one that resonates most strongly with you.
+ Do you love nature, and enjoy camping, hiking, bike riding on Mother Nature? + Do you have a connection to the land you’re walking on, and want to protect it? + Do you have children and want them to grow up in a healthy, sustainable environment? + Do you love animals, and want them to be free of plastics in their body? + Do you travel the world, and want to continue being able to see beautiful coral reefs flourishing, healthy mountain ranges, rainforests filled with trees, birds and plant species, and oceans free of litter? + Are you a health-conscious person, who cares about what you put into your body, and fear the consumption of microplastics in our food systems?
For me, the answer is nature, connection to land, and being a wanderlust traveller. My passion is travelling, and I’m currently wandering this country we call Australia. I’ve been driving up the coastline, mainly sticking to the beach towns and listening to the waves crash beside me while I sleep warm and cosy in my swag under the stars. Sometimes, I get a desire to go up to the mountains. So I explore there too, immersing myself in the lush forests, listening to the trees sway in the wind, and the birds singing to each other. I try to connect to the land I’m walking on and respect wherever I go, its Aboriginal language and history, as well as Mother Earth who provides for me. I pick up rubbish on the beach and forest paths, I use a reusable coffee cup, cotton bud, cutlery and shopping/produce bags. I cook as much as possible so that I don’t consume much plastic in my shopping, and I take a jar around with my compost which I drop off to sharewaste or community gardens along my journey. I’m vegetarian and support local food produce stores and farmers markets, as well as bulk food stores with my reusable containers and jars. I mainly buy from op shops, or sustainable companies when needed. I opt for public transport or bike riding wherever possible, and car share when I’m staying in hostels to save on vehicle emissions.
"We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly." - Anne Marie Bonneau
I am the first to say that I don’t live the perfect eco-friendly zero waste lifestyle. I’m human and I make mistakes. When I find a way to do something more sustainable, I try to learn that way because as a human, I can grow and change, and adapt - just like you can. I love this earth I live on, and I believe that we all individually have the power and responsibility to create positive change for our planet.
Here’s some of Australia's not so fantastic facts on plastic: x An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year (source: Take 3) x 86% of Australia’s plastic waste goes to landfill x 50% of Australia’s plastic is single use (Source: replas) x In Australia, we eat 5g of microplastics and nanoplastics per week (source: Newcastle University) x It takes approximately 30 years for a takeaway single use coffee cup to breakdown (source: WWF) x Cigarette butts are made out of plastic, and take an estimated 10 years or more to degrade into tiny plastic fibres (source: Tangaroa Blue) Now that we’ve talked the talk; let’s walk the walk. Here at WILD, this is what the team have committed to doing this PFJ: Roxy - WILD founder is going to start making her own plant based milk from scratch!….. You can follow her via @the_imperfect_conservationist Amy - WILD’s guest blogger, is going to pick up three bits of rubbish every day wherever she goes, as well as continuing to monitor and reduce her plastic consumption on the road. You can follow her via @shes_green The WILD Team - We will be doing our part by helping spread awareness and education on Plastic Free July as well as working towards ensuring there is no single use plastic used throughout our manufacturing chain for our Wild Apparel. We will also be hosting our Wild Clean Ups to help keep plastic out of our natural spaces.
Our first WILD Clean Up at Manly on Eora Country (Amy, Bec, Roxy, Harrison). Keep your eyes peeled for further clean up events here.
Is there anything that you could improve on, or learn more about? Could you start a conversation with a friend, and encourage each other to use less? Share with us your actions by tagging @wildeducation on Instagram and empower others to follow you. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing the facts about the Australian plastic crisis and easy actions you can take to help reduce your plastic consumption. Stay tuned, and stay plastic free - where you can be.
Written by Amy Tobin