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Plastic Free July – one step towards a plastic free future

Plastic Free July – one step towards a plastic free future

If you were to collect every plastic item that you use and throw away each month, just what would it look like?

For most people being confronted with the reality of just how much plastic they throw away on a daily basis should be a wakeup call, said Nick King, President of the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange (ECCO).

“It should have a sobering effect. If you see that I use that much plastic in a month and I'm one person and multiply that by 7 billion on the planet — that’s a lot of plastic,” said Nick.

“Every single item of plastic that has ever been made is still on the planet in some form or another- it never goes away. We are fast approaching a problem where there is going to be more plastic in the ocean than fish.”

When you see photos of literal islands of plastic in the middle of the ocean, the size of the problem can seem daunting, but there is something we can all do about it, said Nick, who along with other members of ECCO, is urging Orange locals to take part in the Plastic Free July Challenge.

Plastic Free July is about spreading awareness of the problem plastics pose to our environment and getting people to look at new ways of reducing the amount they use. In particular it is about saying no to single-use plastics, those items like shopping bags and bottles that are used once, disposed of in minutes, but stay in the environment forever.

Even when people are aware of the problem, changing behaviour does not happen easily, said Nick, but he hopes the Plastic Free July Challenge will help people take that first step towards long-term change.

“If you are going to change the world or change any sort of behavioural issue, we can't expect the government to do to, we can't expect the council to do it. It all starts with the individual,” Nick said.

“You can go from being totally oblivious of the problem to then being aware of it about, still not doing anything about it but feeling guilty every time you use a plastic bag, but then the next step is to actually take action. That's why this Plastic Free July is so important, it gives people the incentive and a goal to work towards.” 

Orange Deputy Mayor Joanne McRae said she and other members of Council’s environmental sustainability committee have signed up for the challenge. While already conscious to take reusable bags to the supermarket and avoiding takeaway coffee cups, Cr McRae said this July she will be looking at new ways to reduce her household’s plastic use.

“I think Plastic Free July presents an opportunity for us to think about it as the starting point for what we are going to do differently to eliminate the problem,” Cr McRae said. “I think there is already a big shift. I know that at the supermarket I go to, there is already a lot more people bringing their own bags, so I think there is a raised awareness and the next step is what other ways can we eliminate single use plastics… If you can do something for 30 days, then that makes a lasting change and it becomes a habit.”

Tips for kicking the plastic habit: 

Carry reusable shopping bags in the car or your handbag - and don’t forget to bring them with you into the supermarket.

Buy re-usable fruit and vegetable bags.

Support retailers who encourage BYO bags and provide non-plastic alternatives.

Say no to plastic beverage lids and straws. Use your own paper straws if you must and remember that re-usable coffee cup in the morning.

For advice on living plastic free and more information on the Plastic Free July Challenge find them on Facebook or visit www.plasticfreejuly.org

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