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Plastic must go!

Plastic must go!

Photo: Sim Madigan and Kate Hook display a month’s worth of household plastic waste collected through their July challenge. While Kate strived to keep her household plastic free, for Sim it was business as usual.

Plastic Free July has come to an end and Orange City News caught up with Sim Madigan and Kate Hook to see the results of their month-long challenge to highlight household plastic waste.

All through the month of July Kate and Sim have saved every piece of plastic they would normally recycle or dispose of in general waste. While Kate strived to keep her household plastic free, for Sim it was business as usual. The idea of the challenge was to help raise awareness of the problem plastics pose to our environment and highlight just how much plastic we really consume. 

For Kate, the month brought a few frustrations. Much of the plastic she found herself collecting through the month was actually from products purchased prior to July or brought over by visiting friends and family.

But despite her best efforts there were still some unavoidable plastic purchases.

“I have kids that love berries and I really, really hope that some berry producers can look at alternatives to [plastic punnets],” Kate said.

“The other big thing for me was having two labradors, their dog food, I haven't found a solution that is not in a huge plastic bag.”

Cheese was another challenge at first, but Kate found a way around the plastic wrap, convincing a local supermarket to sell her a wedge cut straight from a whole wheel.

Milk too, Kate has been able to source in glass bottles, at a slightly higher price, but it’s a small cost compared to the damage plastics have on the environment, she said.

As for cleaning products, Kate is buying them in bulk containers, which are still plastic, but she has found a way to re-purpose them on her small hobby farm.

She even switched to a solid bar shampoo as part of her own war on waste.

Going into the challenge month, Sim thought she knew what to expect, but was still surprised by just how much plastic is part of our day to day lives.

“I knew that was going to be a challenge, because we go through a lot of milk and those sort of bulkier items I was expecting, but it was all the little, little bits — food wrapping, the amount of lids, the amount of meat trays, so there are some things I can work on,” said Sim.

Even though Sim was meant to continue shopping as she normally would, she said once you start noticing plastic everywhere it becomes difficult not to do something about it

“Things like fruit you'd find on a tray with wrapping around it. Now, I am just really mindful of all that little packaging, so going forward that is going to change,” said Sim.

“It is a good exercise to do. I would encourage everyone to keep their plastic in a separate container for a while and just see what you use… A lot of people will find it difficult to go completely plastic free; however, if we can reduce as much as possible it’s a start.”

Kate said the month has shown her how easy it is to make a habit of avoiding plastic.

She plans to continue looking for new ways to go plastic free and encourages others to give it a go.

“It is a matter of keeping the awareness up. I am motivated now to change our Plastic Free July Facebook page to a Plastic Free Forever Facebook page and just see if we can keep the momentum going and keep people focused on it,” said Kate.

“Changing one thing, changes everything. If one person says I don't want a plastic straw, you might say that is such a tiny thing. But if all 7 billion people on the planet say I don't want a plastic straw, that's a huge change for the planet.”


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