There are great initiatives, events, global days and challenges to get us all to think and reduce our plastic waste. One of these is plastic free July which myself and Cape RADD are going to take part in. Plastic free July first started in Western Australia in 2011 and now has spread all over the world. The idea is to avoid buying and using single-use plastics for the whole month, a way for us to learn how to reduce our use of single-use plastics and explore alternatives. I already like to be careful, but sometimes through limited choice end up using more plastic than I wish to. I try to avoid plastic bags, I carry around a water bottle with me and say no to plastic cutlery (even if its been a messy eat). We are going to try our best at not using single-use plastic and I am going to keep a diary of how I get on and what products I come across, single-use plastic products and alternatives that are better for the environment.
For years people have thought that plastic will disintegrate and just disappear one day. It will be buried in to a hole, dumped into the sea never to return again because it will simply just disappear, and that if our plastic waste does end up in a recycling bin then there is no problem, It will be reused.
The planet cannot digest our plastic waste. Every piece of plastic ever made is still on our planet, a fact I am still finding hard to digest, unless it has been burned, yet this releases toxic fumes into the atmosphere. If the plastic does make it into the recycling bin, then great, however, not all plastic is recyclable and the plastic that is doesn’t always make it to being recycled.
In light of the recent blue planet II series, and efforts from high profile people, the state of our oceans has spread far. We are lucky to live in this media age so that the message could spread fast because we need to act fast. Approximately 14 billion pounds of plastic makes its way in to our oceans each year, animals are killed by it through entanglement and digestion. Plastic very slowly breaks down into micro plastics which marine life are eating and absorbing the toxins. These toxins have made their way into humans, in numerous ways. Doctors have found that toxins from plastic are playing havoc with our hormones and are discovering shocking effects from being exposed to so much plastic. The world still uses 5 trillion plastic bags each year, one product we use for on average 12 minutes and in my eyes we simply do not need. Not to mention the 100s of other types of products we use once and throw away, or that do not need to be made from plastic.
While being in South Africa I have been so impressed with the efforts and awareness of plastic pollution. Maybe it is because there is such a love and respect for the oceans here, whether its admiring its beauty, surfing its waves or exploring it through diving. There is still a long way to go, however, there are lots of exciting plans such as the V&A waterfront pledge to get rid of plastic bags and plastic straws by the end of 2019. The “Blue planet effect” has certainly spread, more people are aware and realise the severity of the plastic problem. There are lots of exciting products coming to market that mean you do not need to use single-use plastic. If not for the planet, do it for your health!
It is not too late to join in plastic free July, you can sign up here: http://www.plasticfreejuly.org its free and there are lots of tips. You can also try the challenge any other month and start the journey to a single-use plastic free life. Be sure to tag Cape RADD in your photos so we can see the pointless packaging and plastic products you come across and any cool alternatives you find!