At the beginning of this Plastic Free July, I shared with you that I was going to be picking up at least 3 bits of rubbish each day along my journey. And I stuck to that commitment (yes, I still have a few days to go!). So, what did I find along the way? Here's the low down on some of the items I found:
The 5 most common items I found were:
1. Cigarette butts
6 out of 10 Australians litter their butts outdoors. Cigarette butts are made from nonbiodegradable plastic and can take up to 12–15 years to break down. Further to this, cigarette butts are responsible for 8–10 per cent of bush fires in rural areas. (source: Keep Australia Beautiful) That's why it's so important to smoke responsibly and bin your butt.
2. Single use masks Since masks became mandatory as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, 53 million a day are thrown away or dropped on our streets and cause problems for our animals and environment. When they are littered, they find their way into our water systems and can strangle wildlife. Further to this, single use masks are made out of PPE and when they eventually break down they form micro and nano plastics, causing irreparable damage to our ecosystems. (source: The Scottish Sun)
Tip: If you do need to use a single use mask, remember to cut the strings off, so that animals don't become strangled from the loops. 3. Take away coffee cups
500 billion disposable coffee cups are produced globally each year. Australia uses 1 billion of these, and 90% end up in landfill. The takeaway coffee cup that we enjoy a drink from, for an average of less than 15 minutes, takes a significantly longer time of 30 years to break down. (source: 1 Million Women)
Tip: Carry a reusable coffee cup in your handbag and your car. You'll never forget to bring it with you! If you do happen to forget it, why not dine in and take a moment to breathe and enjoy your coffee for that 15 minutes? It'll be good for the mind, and the planet.
4. Plastic bottle tops
5. Soft plastics wrappers
As we've shared with you in the last three articles, there's a lot of doom and gloom out there. It begs the question, is there any good happening in Australia? Well, I'm here to share the good news. In the local community, there definitely is! And that's where I see that glimmer of hope. That's also where each single one us comes in and plays a role in tackling the war on plastic.
Here's some incredible organisations who have stopped waiting for government reforms, and are taking recycling plastic into their own hands. Replas
All recycled plastic products manufactured by RPA are using 98% recycled plastic material, with the remainder being the Master Batch, Light Fastener, and UV stabiliser package.
There are a variety of mixed recyclables in Replas products. Post consumer material comes from the soft plastic collected at Coles and Woolworths through the REDcycle program, as well as car bumpers. Post commercial materials comes from hospital waste, post industrial mixed plastics are factory scraps, and mixed hygiene products comes from multiple polymer types and paper.
HOW TO RECYCLE:
+Drop your soft plastics off at your local Coles/Woolworths! It's that easy. Find out more here.
TerraCycle offers free national recycling programs funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world. To date, over 202 million people are recycling in 21 countries and have collected billions of pieces of waste, raising over 44 million dollars for charities around the world.
HOW TO RECYCLE:
+You can join any number of programs, start collecting at your location, download free shipping labels, and send Terracycle your waste to be recycled.
Some stores and retailers that have partnered with Terracycle also offer these easy options:
+Drop off your clean cosmetic containers to your local David Jones store. Tip: cut them in half and wash them in a big lot to make it easier for yourself!
+Send your used blister packs, razors and toothbrushes to Flora and Fauna here
This duo have rescued over 300,000 plastic bottle caps from landfill to date. Creating disruptive design to positively impact the planet, striving for better outcomes for traditionally non-recyclable products, and providing accessible, local manufacturing solutions Australia-wide.
This organisation collects bread tags nationally in Australia. The tags are recycled locally, raising funds to buy wheelchairs for disadvantaged people, mainly in South Africa. 4,148 kg of Aussie bread tags have been recycled to date!
HOW TO RECYCLE:
+Recycle your bread tags here by finding your closest drop off point.
In 2017-18 alone, SodaStreamers from around the world stopped over 6.3 billion plastic bottles and cans from polluting our environment. Have you switched to a soda stream, instead of purchasing plastic soft drinks? We'd love to see your soda stream creations!
Written by Amy - @shes_green