Plastic Free July starts in just under a week. I’ve signed up to refusing plastic for the month. It is impossible for us to avoid ALL plastic as I discussed in a blog post around this time last year. However, I’ve recently watched The Story of Plastic and I’m more motivated than ever to eliminate all the plastics we can from our household, especially the single use ones.
Of all the plastic that has ever existed: more than half was produced in the last 15 years and 91% has never been recycled.The Story of Plastic
Our use of plastics has been rising exponentially. Some uses of plastics are valuable, even lifesaving, innovations it is true but there is so much we can avoid. Invested parties encourage us to think buying plastic bottled water is okay because the bottle can be recycled but, even if these bottles are sent to be recylced – and most are not – plastic recycling is problematic in a number of ways. And so a very large proportion of the plastic we use ends up as waste. Our first line of defence is avoidance (or REFUSE in the terminology of the Waste Reducing Principles).
Plastic Pollution More Than Waste
I am very conscious of the problem of plastic waste, as I think most of us are. It is difficult to escape news about our oceans filling up with plastic and filling the stomachs of our marine animals. We see pictures of waterways strewn with plastic rubbish. We see landfill sites piled high with plastic. We even see plastic ‘recycling’ stockpiled in warehouses. The Story of Plastic, however, highlighted for me that plastic waste isn’t just about the end product. The pollution begins way before that.
The plastics crisis doesn’t start when the plastics enter the ocean. It starts when the oil and the gas leave the wellhead. And it keeps on being a problem at every step along the way.Carroll Muffett, President and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law, in The Story of Plastic
Caroll Muffett, President and CEO of the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL) insists, in The Story of Plastic, that the big plastic corporations need to be held accountable for the impact of their products. They have A LOT invested in plastics with more to come. According to CEIL, “$164 billion (investment is) planned for 264 new facilities or expansion projects in the US alone”. The plastics industry will not let go of this easily.
Consumer Power in Numbers
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like we, the consumer, can have a much influence on this. However, these corporations hear our consumer voices. Colgate is now selling bamboo toothbrushes, Woolworths has stopped the sale of plastic straws to name just a couple of examples. We can have an influence as individual consumers by refusing plastic and our collective voice is powerful. That is the power of Plastic Free July.
Sign up for Plastic Free July
I encourage you to sign up to Plastic Free July and commit to refusing plastics next month. I hope you will find that there are easy ways to do this that you can continue beyond July. I have some suggestions in my post called 12 Single Use Plastic Items to Eliminate. The Plastic Free July website has lots of great resources too.
Let me know what you plan to do for Plastic Free July by leaving a comment over on the Family Footprint Project Facebook page.