EVERY piece of plastic ever made still exists, and that’s why Warrnambool’s Melissa Cumming decided to take the pledge and say no to single use plastics this month.
Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it.
“This year I have been making a real effort to move towards becoming zero waste, it’s a big change and doesn’t happen overnight,” Ms Cumming said.
“I’ve made small changes over time, like composting food scraps, buying package free shampoo and using a bamboo toothbrush.”
She has also been making a conscious effort when grocery shopping to buy food without packaging or with packaging that could be upcycled.
“I also am a new volunteer for Sea Shepherd and am involved with the marine debris operation,” she said.
“I noticed on our last beach clean-up that so much of what we found was single use plastic.”
When the challenge came up she decided to take it on to see how much plastic she was using.
“The idea of plastic free July is to avoid single use plastics, these are items like straws, plastic cutlery, water bottles and plastic bags, although there are many more items we could eliminate,” she said.
Ms Cumming said she armed heself with “some great tools to make plastic free living easier”.
“I have reusable shopping bags, smaller reusable produce bags, I’ve made beeswax wraps to use instead of gladwrap, I have a reusable water bottle, metal/bamboo straws and plenty of jars to store food,” she said.
“However, I’m only human and sometimes we slip up, I might buy a packet of chips or order a parcel that comes in a plastic mail bag. Sometimes plastic is really hard to avoid. Luckily we can recycle our soft plastics by collecting them and dropping them in a red-cycle bin.”
Ms Cumming said every piece of plastic ever made still exists.
“That’s a scary, scary thought and we use plastic, a material designed to outlive us, to make items that we use only once,” she said.
“When we throw away plastic over time it will become brittle and will start to breakup into smaller pieces but it doesn’t ever break down and go away. This is especially harmful to a marine life as the tiny pieces get washed into the water ways. Scientists predict that there will be more tonnes of plastic in the oceans than tonnes of fish by 2050.
“We live in such a spectacular place - just think about the beautiful whales that we’ve seen in the last few weeks. If we want these amazing creatures to keep visiting, we need to make efforts to reduce the plastic that is ending up in our waterways. It’s not just our oceans it affects, the manufacturing of plastics pollutes the air we breathe with toxic chemicals.”
Ms Cumming’s tips for making changes are:
- Avoid buying plastic where you can and look for plastic free alternatives
- Reduce your use by making one or two simple swaps like reusable coffee cups or shopping bags.
- Refuse plastic where possible - ask for no straw and explain why.
- Recycle. Put your hard plastics into your recycle bin and collect your soft plastics for red-cycle.
- No change or effort is too small. Just pick one thing and have a go, it’s unrealistic to change everything at once.
- Read up. If we know why something is bad we are more likely to make changes and stick to them.
Visit www.plasticfreejuly.org for more information.