Since 2011, a movement which started in Australia, has made July the month of living plastic-free. We love this movement and support it wholly, as it’s proven to have helped efforts to reduce plastic usage globally by 825 million kg waste each year.
But, surely it’s time that more needs to be done to get the companies that create the plastic in the first place, to change too?
As a family, we do what we can, we take reusable bags for shopping, we use wooden tooth brushes, we even use plant-based cling-film… but we still see plastic everywhere! And so instead of talking about what us families can do, we think it’s time to talk about the big companies, and see what they’re doing…
Where we live, we are lucky enough to walk the beach everyday. Although our beach, in comparison to other beaches in our area, gets few visitors, we pick up without fail: straws, plastic bottle tops and crisp packets (yes they’re made of plastic), sweet wrappers and tiny pieces of plastic (you can’t fathom where they’re from). The less common but still wash up on shore now and then, are glow sticks (also left by poachers), floss, nappies, plastic toothbrushes, plastic bags and bottles.
Most of the plastic is washed up from the sea, of course visitors or some locals leave rubbish behind but the main cause is the sea throwing up human trash onto the beach.
We believe in the power of choice and everyone’s choices will help change the attitudes of businesses, to ditch plastic packaging and use alternatives in their manufacturing instead. However, we feel this isn’t happening fast enough. We live in South Africa and there is little to no recycling done in some areas. The amount of plastic rubbish you see in the streets, along motorways and among housing is very sad.
“The urgency is undeniable: humans have produced around 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic since the 1950s and that figure is predicted to rise to around 34 billion tonnes by 2050. Plastic production is forecast to grow 40 per cent in the next decade with fossil fuel companies investing billions of dollars to build new generation plastic-making factories in the United States.”
Poverty is undeniably a significant variable here, as people buy what they can afford and what’s easily accessible. While plastic is still permitted to be used for the majority of packaging (as much as we educate everyone to avoid it), it’s hard to do realistically in the majority of communities. Companies are not being confronted or changing their ways fast enough and the easily accessible products riddled with plastic are still being bought in major supermarkets around the world.
We believe that governments need to do more by putting pressure on the big companies that produce the lollipops, plastic toothbrushes, plastic floss and crisp packets through laws to utilise plant-based alternatives and stop using plastic. A movement to change the behaviours of companies, will then stop bringing plastic into the system in the first place and living single-plastic free will be the norm.
You can read more about this subject on the UN Environment site, see whether you think the big companies are doing enough?
For now, instead of waiting for the big companies to change, we can all support the businesses that do care now and perhaps avoid products made by the bigger brands until they change their ways! And, yes, this is the point behind the movement #plasticfreejuly
You can start living a single-plastic free life by searching OYOO and supporting businesses offering plastic-free alternatives right now or if you’re a business and offer plastic-free items, find out more about join OYOO and list your business for free.
Please check out PlasticFreeJuly.org, it’s a good resource for anyone just learning about this movement or considering how they can start to make a difference to the planet.