#plasticfreejuly was great; now let’s do it every month

Lifestyle

#plasticfreejuly was great; now let’s do it every month

How you can follow through on the zero-waste trend

Nivashni Nair

Cape Town primary school teacher Claire Tyler-Smith has taken the Plastic Free July challenge to a new level – she has given up things that she previously allowed into her life without thinking.
“It means more than not wasting plastic. It is about not being wasteful in any area of my life. It includes water, electricity, resources, money, time and energy. It is saying no to requests to join Facebook groups that don’t interest me, saying no to that sample of chocolate pudding in a polystyrene cup, saying no to those jelly beans in a plastic packet,” she said.
Tyler-Smith is one of many South Africans who pledged to the #ChooseToRefuse single-use plastic challenge to protect the environment. They have given up straws, plastic ear buds, plastic bags, coffee cup lids, plastic cutlery and plastic water bottles and cups, and are embracing a minimalist “no-wastage” lifestyle.Plastic Free July began in Western Australia in 2011 and spread to millions of participants across more than 150 countries.This is how I did #zerowastejuly

Asking for bread in brown paper.
Asking for cheese in wax paper.
Bringing my own cloth bags to collect groceries.
Using a Lamy fountain pen and ink.
Using essential oils in my bath instead of highly perfumed body products.
Kikki.k planner instead of throwaway notes.
Zero waste toothbrush and deodorant.
Bulk buying as much as I can by using cotton produce bags bought at @shopzero.sa
Refusing single-use plastic straws and cups by using my stainless steel straw from @shopzero.sa and my @ecoffee cup.
Loose-leaf tea and coffee grounds instead of pods and teabags.
Making all my meals at home and taking packed lunches to work.The head of WWF South Africa’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative, Pavitray Pillay, told Times Select that social media was instrumental in highlighting the impact of plastics on oceans and rivers by providing very vivid and “in-your-face” visuals and videos, many of which have gone viral.
“This has not only helped generate awareness but has also created outrage among many people and businesses. Further to this, many educational and environmental organisations are now leading the charge on creating awareness and helping everyday folk to move beyond awareness into action and to make lifestyle changes. As a result, initiatives such as Plastic Free July have gathered steam and are being accepted by South Africans,” said Pillay.Environmental campaigner Karoline Hanks said while efforts to live plastic free were increasing, there was “a lot of talk and not enough radical action. Time is running out for the oceans and our climate and we have to act now. It needs to be a decision made at government level – ban plastic bags, ditch single-use and other disposables across the board, not just straws. Other countries have done it; we can too.”BY THE NUMBERS
From the University of Cape Town’s Fitzpatrick Institute, United Nations, Science (journal):

Out of the top 20 offenders, South Africa is the 11th worst offender in the world when it comes to releasing plastic waste into the sea (higher than India and Brazil).
At least 94% of all beach litter in South Africa is made from plastic of which 77% is packaging.
The amount of litter washing up daily in Table Bay tripled between 1994 to 2011, far outstripping the growth in Cape Town’s population over the same period.
An estimated one million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute.
A hundred thousand marine animals are killed by plastics each year.
Fifty percent of consumer plastics are single use...

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