Plastic Free July has arrived! For those not familiar with Plastic Free July, it's a challenge that was created in 2001 by WMRC Earth Carers in Perth, Australia and is now run by by Plastic Free July Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation.
During my first 30 day Plastic Free July challenge I interpreted the challenge as zero plastic — no plastic at all, for the entire month. To be honest, I actually didn't think it would be that hard. However it wasn't until day two when I went to order my regular weekend treat that I realised this challenge was going to be a wake up call. My favourite ice-coffee I always ordered on a Saturday morning, the one that came in a disposable plastic cup, with a disposable straw, was now a no-go zone. It was my "ah-ha" moment. And that's exactly what the Plastic Free July Challenge is all about.
Going completely Plastic Free is not the aim of the challenge. Realising what single use items you can reduce from your day-to-day activities, and acting on that reduction is the challenge.
The more we reduce the more we, or rather the planet, wins.
It has been several years since I first participated in the Plastic Free July challenge and each year I take the challenge and turn it up a notch. This means introducing some new changes to my daily routine to work towards zero plastic during Plastic Free July.
Over the past year I have collected all the single use thin plastic that has passed through my door. These pieces of plastic have been stowed in an oversized Australia Post mailing bag, to be eventually placed into a RedCycle bin, where they will hopefully be recycled into other plastic items. The preference of course would be that there was zero plastic coming through those doors, however that's easier said than done.
Challenge 1 — Refuse Single Use Plastic Wrapping
The oversized stuffed postal bag will now make its way to RedCycle and a new (smaller) bag to collect soft plastics will be begin. The challenge this July will be to not add to that plastic bag with purchases made during the month of July. Or put another way, not to purchase any single-use food wrapped plastic items during the month of July. This will include some household staples: such as tofu and cheese. Will I conquer the challenge? That is yet to be seen!
Challenge 2 — Switch to Dishwashing Soap Bar
The next challenge will be to remove liquid dishwashing soap. Currently kitchen dish soap is purchased in bulk and refilled into a smaller plastic container. This is one area that I have been wanting to improve on. While the kitchen itself is now free of plastic; the plastic dishwashing brush was finally on it's way out — it that was replaced with an eco-friendly version, microfibre cloths have been replaced with compostable dishcloths and plastic scrubbers have been replaced with coconut fibre scrubbing brushes, but the plastic bottle with liquid soap still remains.
Will I pass this challenge? This one is a 100% yes! Why am I so sure?
Just last month the Australian Natural Soap Company released a new product, one that will hit the EORTH shelves in just a few days. What's does this product have to do with cleaning dishes? The Australian Natural Soap Company are taking us back to the days before liquid dishwashing detergent — dish soap is back in its original bar form. We're really excited to be trying out this new product and it's great to know I can tick off one of my goals in the first week of Plastic Free July!
Challenge 3 — Zero Plastic during Plastic Free July
As mentioned above the single use plastic food packaging is a no-go zone for 2019, but what about buying items such as nuts, flour and other grains off the shelf? While all the household fruit and vegetables purchased are 100 per cent single use plastic free, purchasing plastic free nuts and grains has been more of a challenge. There are too many reasons to list in this post why I've been resistant to make changes in this part of the shopping routine, but it's one I'm ready to tackle head on this Plastic Free July.
Are you just getting started on your Plastic Free journey or have you been on the path for some time now — and ready to make some more small changes? Share your changes and challenges below!
View our Getting Started Guide for tips on how to successfully complete your Plastic Free July? (Tip: There is no "failing" the challenge! Plastic Free July is all about raising awareness of the issues surrounding plastic pollution and heightening your own awareness of how easy it is to let plastic infiltrate our lives on a day-to-day basis.)
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.