The Inspired Adventures office is going plastic free for July. Will you join us? We’re pledging to bring our reusable coffee cups, say no to plastic shopping bags, and when plastic does find its way into our lives, make sure it’s recycled.
The problem with plastics
We’ve all seen ugly plastic pollution and litter; it’s unfortunately ubiquitous. But it’s not just that bags and bottles on the roadside are unsightly. The amount of resource that goes into producing and shipping single-use plastic items is also pretty gross. New plastic bags, straws, takeout containers, and bottles are made from polymers, mostly from non-renewable natural resources such as petrochemicals, gas and coal. Think about the journey a straw takes from raw material, to manufacture, to distribution for it to be used once and thrown away. Yikes!
And we can’t just recycle the plastics problem away. The recycling process itself is resource intensive. Not all plastics, or even most, are recycled (even when put in the yellow bin), due the economies of supply and demand for recycling centres. Free plastics in the environment will find their way into the ocean where they are broken down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. These make up the the great plastic soup floating in the Pacific known as “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” In fact, as reported in the Guardian, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation recently predicted there would be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 unless urgent action was taken.
So, what’s an environmentally conscious person to do? For starters, you can join Plastic Free July and make an immediate impact while you make long-term lifestyle shifts.
Following India's lead...No, really!
If you’re thinking the plastics problem is too big to solve, here’s proof to the contrary. In 2015, India’s National Games set a goal of running a disposable-free event. Ambitious to say the least. With hundreds of thousands attendees and an athletes’ village to feed, the task was huge – but so was the potential waste savings. A Green Protocol Committee was set up, and their action successfully stopped the generation of about 120 metric tonnes of disposable waste over the entire duration of the Games.
As quoted in the New India Times, the committee’s executive director says, “Most of the caterers, in all the 30 Games venues, took extra effort to provide clean and reusable tableware each time they served food. The best examples for this are ‘Kudumbasree’, which served food to nearly 10,000 people every day in reusable tableware and Suchitwa Mission, which distributed water to spectators in all the 30 venues, in stainless steel tumblers. They served coffee, tea and soft drinks in the same tumblers.”
- Think of all the single use items you’ve used in the last week. Which of these can be replaced with reusable? Coffee cups, takeaway containers, and grocery bags all have eco-friendly reusable alternatives!
- Ditch the straw! It’s what your lips were made for.
- Buy in bulk or at packaging-free stores. At grocers like The Source or Wasteless Pantry you BYO glass jar (or purchase in store) to scoop in what you need and skip the plastics. You can find stores like this near you on this handy website.
- Slow down. The bulk of single use plastic is created for convenience’s sake. Do you really need to take away your food and drink? Dine in! Have your coffee in the café in a real, reusable, ceramic mug.
- PlasticFreeJuly.org have a heap of tips and suggestions to help you ban the bag, and all the other single use plastic. Get onto it and signup to the pledge this July!