4 tips to help you go plastic free this July

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Splash Without the Trash at a Rose Bay clean up event

Splash Without the Trash at a Rose Bay clean up event


Published 1 July 2019

This month more than 120 million people across the world are joining the Plastic Free July movement. Will you join them and choose to refuse?

You’ve probably heard by now, we’ve got a big problem with plastic.

The average Australian produces 53 kilograms of plastic waste each year. Only 14% of this plastic is ever recycled. The rest makes its way into landfills or fills up our parks, streets and waterways where it harms our marine life.

The good news is we can make small, every day changes and help turn the tide against plastics. Here we share some practical tips to help cut down the plastic in our lives.

1. BYO or say no

Single-use plastics make up 40% of the plastic produced globally. These items are used for only a few minutes and then thrown away. Therefore, a good place to start your plastic-free journey is by tackling the ‘Big 4’: plastic bags, single-use water bottles, straws and takeaway coffee cups.

There are plenty of alternatives to help rid these items from our lives. Invest in some quality reusable products including coffee cups, drink bottles, shopping bags, cutlery and straws – and keep them handy for when you’re on the go. Alternatively, say no to plastic items when shopping or grabbing takeaway; plastic straws and plastic bags are the biggest offenders. You could also choose to take things slow and sit down to enjoy your coffee or meal in the restaurant.

You don’t need to change everything overnight. Commit to making one change, then two and grow from there. If you’re looking at investing in some new environmentally friendly products check out Shop Naturally, Biome and Flora and Fauna.

2. Vote with your wallet

Support businesses that minimise their use of plastics and promote sustainable behaviours.

When grocery shopping, you could ditch the major supermarkets and shop at the Double Bay organic markets (every Thursday, 9am-2pm at Guilfoyle Park) or a bulk wholefood retailer, like Naked Foods in Double Bay, to minimise plastic waste. Better yet, you could join one of our community gardens and grow your own produce.

For your daily caffeine hit, choose a business that’s signed up to Responsible Cafes and enjoy a discount for bringing your own cup. For lunch, choose a cafĂ© that wraps food in paper instead of plastic. Believe in the power of consumers to enact change.

Kids planting at Cooper Park Community Garden
Cooper Park Community Garden

3. Find your tribe

Making changes can be easier if you do it together with a friend, or as part of a group. There are many local groups dedicated to tackling plastic waste. You could join one of Boomerang Bags Sydney Eastern Suburbs’ free workshops and make your own bag or scrunchie from recycled materials. Or join a beach clean-up group like Splash Without the Trash, Responsible Runners Rose Bay or Take 3 for the Sea.

plastic pollution on beach
Plastic pollution on our beaches

4. Pick up litter when you see it

We’re lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world. Unfortunately, plastic litter in Sydney Habour is a big problem. Council officers clean our beaches and foreshore areas every week, but we can’t solve the plastic pollution problem on our own – we need your help.

Pick up litter whenever you see it in our parks, streets and beaches. Plastic straws, bags, cigarette butts and bottle tops are some of the most common plastic pollution found on our beaches and they have a disastrous impact on marine life. Follow the Take 3 for the Sea mantra and take three pieces of litter with you every time you visit the beach. You could also sign up to our HarbourCare program and volunteer to collect litter at a beach near you. It's as easy as keeping an eye out for litter while on your morning walk or swim, or joining a group pick up day.

Read more tips about how to rid plastic from your life in Clara Williams Roldan and Louise Williams’ book Quitting Plastic and at the Plastic Free July website.

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