30 days without plastic…are you up for the challenge?
One of our coworker companies PlanetSHINE are supporting Plastic Free July. They shared with us the story behind it and why they feel so passionate about it. PlanetSHINE are an ethical media platform, PlanetSHINE works with some of the world’s largest, most progressive and most purpose driven brands on the planet.
GUEST BLOG from PlanetSHINE.
Do Plastic Free July.
By Julie Reid
In Perth, Australia, in 2011, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz was working in local government doing waste education. She visited a recycling sorting facility as part of the job and was blown away by the amount of waste she saw. When she went home that night and put her recycling out on the curb, she knew that the answer wasn’t in recycling more. It was in reducing the amount of rubbish she was putting in the bins in the first place.
Rebecca set herself a challenge on the spot: to go plastic-free for 30 days. The next day she asked a handful of friends and work colleagues – around 40 people in all – to join her and Plastic Free July was born.
Fast forward to 2020 and Plastic Free July is now a global movement. Over 250 million people in 177 countries have participated in the challenge. While there are local communities, schools and organisations that have taken up the cause, social media remains at the centre of the movement. That’s where people go to share tips on how to reduce plastic in their lives, upcycle the plastic they can’t avoid and find clever solutions and life hacks when it comes to living plastic free.
Like so many people, it was the footage of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 that first jolted me into awareness of plastic pollution. And as I started to dig into the stats, I was shocked at the scale of the problem. Here are a few of those stats from Lucy Siegle’s Turning the Tide on Plastic:
- The plastic we throw away in a single year could circle the earth four times
- Out of the 320 million metric tonnes of new plastic mass-produced each year – almost all from oil – eight million tonnes leak into the world’s oceans and waterways
- Every minute of every day, one million plastic bottles are used
- In the last decade we’ve produced more plastic than we did during the whole of the last century
- By 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by their weight than fish.
‘Plastic is an extraordinary material,’ says Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, in the book’s introduction. ‘Flexible, colourful, light, abundant and almost indestructible. It has had an impact on every human industry and revolutionised the very way we live. It has helped us explore the farthest reaches of the planet, from the deepest ocean trenches to the highest mountain ranges, and even beyond our atmosphere, through space travel.’ But he goes on to say that ‘the very properties that make it so useful also make it problematic when it escapes into the environment.’
I think we’ve all seen our fair share of devastating images of plastic harming wildlife, polluting beaches and rivers, and burying developing countries.
As 2019 gave way to 2020, it felt like some progress was being made. Governments around the world had put a fee on plastic bags, and bans on additional single-use plastic items like straws, coffee stirrers, cotton earbuds and the like were on their way in. But then COVID-19 hit and single-use plastic has come back with a vengeance, not just in our supermarket shop, but with the increased use of personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, and takeaway packaging and cutlery.
But as we all come to terms with how to live alongside this virus, we can still commit to reducing the unnecessary and single-use plastic in our lives. There is a lot we can do as individuals in our own homes and activities, and there are things we can do collectively to work with large corporations and governments to change how the broader systems that underpin our lives works.
And this month, we’re exploring how to do just that through our Plastic Free July activity. We’ll be speaking with thought-leaders, campaigners and purpose-driven brands on what inspires them to keep fighting against plastic pollution. We’ll share practical tips and tricks from people who have successfully reduced the plastic in their lives. And we’ll share resources that will help you start your own journey to plastic-free living.
Thank you PlanetSHINE for sharing this inspirational idea with us. You can follow what PlanetSHINE are up to on their website. Hopefully you may decide to take part in Plastic Free July………