You may have heard of Plastic Free July — an initiative that started in Perth 2001 by the Western Metropolitan Regional Council. The objective: raise awareness around the amount of plastic we use in our day-to-day lives. This small initiative that started in one city in Australia is now a global movement.
Another plastic free movement that takes place across the globe at the start of the new year is Plastic Free January. Unlike Plastic Free July, Plastic Free January does not appear to have been started by one single person, and was likely based on the Plastic Free July movement — with the emphasis on promoting a plastic free lifestyle as part of a New Year’s Resolution.
While EORTH are big followers of Plastic Free July (we opened our online store plastic free store at the beginning of July 2018 to coincide with the movement), we are equally behind the Plastic Free January, as it's the time of the year when people are ready to make a change!
HOW DOES A PLASTIC FREE CHALLENGE WORK?
There are no hard and fast rules. Plastic Free months are all about raising awareness of the issues surrounding plastic pollution. The basic premise of the Plastic Free January challenge is:
- If a product is wrapped in plastic, don’t buy it.
- If a products packaging is plastic (such as a bottle of water), don't buy it.
- If you're offered a free product that's wrapped in plastic or the product itself is made from plastic — simply say no thank you.
By taking these simple actions, you become more aware of how much plastic has become the norm in our day-to-day life.
I'd also like to encourage you to take the challenge one step further by completing two simple steps suggested by Dr. Jenna Jambeck, Environmental Engineering Professor from the University of Georgia.
Dr. Jambeck presented the two steps below during a hearing on the Environmental Impacts of Plastic in October 2019.*
- During the first 24 hours of commencing the Plastic Free January Challenge, take note of everything that you touch that is plastic. By doing this you will see how widely used and useful plastic is, as well, it will allow you to reflect upon where and when are the right times and places to use this material.
- Go outside on a scavenger hunt for garbage, it's unlikely you will need to go very far! View each item you find as a message for you. Then ask yourself three questions:
What is it?
How did it get here?
What are we going to do about it?
WHY IS REDUCING SINGLE USE PLASTIC IMPORTANT?
Despite the fact that plastic recycling has been in firmly place since the 80s, it's estimated that only 9% of the plastic produced annually is recycled globally. That's a pretty dismal rate and one that is most certainly not sustainable.
According to the reports presented by Dr. Jambeck, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic had been produced by 2017.
- Approximately 40% of this plastic was used for packaging and single use items.
- Only 9% of plastic waste had been recycled globally.
- Another 12% of the waste was incinerated.
- Leaving 79% of the waste to end up either in the a landfill or in the open environment.
It was estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic entered the oceans globally in 2010. This quantity would be qual to a dump truck full of plastic entering the ocean every minute.
From these statistics it’s clear to see why focusing on reducing single use plastics is important.
Just like Plastic Free July, will be blogging about the ways to avoid single use plastic throughout the month of January, along with a bit of information on plastics, what they are, what are the best types to avoid and general information on why we collectively need to move towards a less plastic driven lifestyle.
If you’re participating in the Plastic Free January challenge be sure to use the hashtag #plasticfreejan or #earthbeforeplastic on your social media posts.
* Please note: Dr. Jameck’s two steps have been modified from her exact phrasing to fit with the Plastic Free January challenge. They are however based on raising awareness of plastic pollution, which is the concept of Plastic Free January.
Author Bio - Catherine Anne Earle
Catherine founded EORTH, an online plastic free store in July 2018.
Although she had always considered herself to be fairly environmentally conscious, it wasn't until she participated in a Plastic Free July challenge that she became more aware of how damaging plastics were to the environment.
Catherine has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Management and was the part-owner and founder of Sun Peaks Independent News, a community newspaper based in British Columbia, Canada.
Catherine now resides in her home town of Cairns and operates EORTH in the beautiful beachside suburb of Palm Cove, Queensland.