What is plastic free July?
'Plastic Free July® is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.'
Last year it was estimated that during plastic free July those who joined the challenge saved a cumulative 940 million kg of plastic waste. 85% of people who take part, report making changes that stick, with the habits becoming a new way of life!
This amazing statistic is proof enough that this challenge is something that’s certainly important to be a part of! Our plastic consumption is heavily influenced by our daily habits, and one of the best ways to change these habits is by reminding people of alternatives and keeping these issues at front of mind. Now that sustainability and reducing our plastic consumption has been in the mainstream for some time, let’s take a little look at how our habits have changed over the last few years!
The history of plastic and its effects
A little bit of history… The first plastic ever produced was BakeLIte, which became available in 1907 and marks the beginning of the industry! It wasn’t until the late 1950s however that it really started to take off. Fast forward to the latest statistic in 2019 and where annual production rates are at 368 million tonnes (An increase of 9 million tonnes on the previous year). Whilst the scale of all this waste affects many different areas of our environment the main burden is on our oceans. A few key aspect to consider are how:
- Mistaken as food and eaten by marine life - Shearwaters for example often feed fragments of plastic to their young and are starving themselves to death
- Microplastics - Some studies have shown that up to 73% of Deep-sea fish had ingested microplastics
- Coral Reefs - Reefs contaminated with plastic are 89% more likely to die.
In an interview we carried out with the eco-surf girls last year, they mentioned how they would find anything from headless dolls to inflatable beach balls on their beach cleans at Kimmeridge just outside of Bournemouth. With Kimmeridge being a well isolated beach, it goes to show how all sorts of plastics can end up anywhere!
So how have things changed in recent years?
Whilst lots of fantastic companies are steering towards more alternative options, Fossil based plastic production is growing and only 9% of plastic is recycled!
Interestingly, it’s estimated that 20 of the world's largest companies are responsible for 55% of plastic pollution. Positive initiatives are being put in place by some of these companies to reduce their rates of pollution which is certainly a move in the right direction, however much more is left to be done. We can put this first step down to our consumer demands on what is right for the planet!
Positive changes in the UK
One of the biggest changes in the UK in recent years was the introduction of the plastic bag charge, since then we’ve seen a 95% cut in single -use carrier bags, which is awesome news! On recycling, in the year 2000 only 13,000 tonnes of plastic bottles were recycled, the UK now recycles nearly 380,000 tonnes of plastic bottles a year.
Whilst it’s difficult to measure exactly how much plastic is ending up in our oceans or in landfill, it’s important to focus on what we are each consuming on an individual level as guidance on how things are improving. An interesting recent statistic is how on average a person in London buys three plastic bottles a week. Which is scary when you think about how much this amounts to!
How can I get involved?
Now we know that there it’s still lots to be done with regards to plastic pollution, here are a few ways you can get involved with Plastic Free July this year and help us spread the word about this ever-growing issue.
At WiDEYE we've challenged ourselves and the team to each make a sustainable swap! With the aim of carrying this on into the future! Keep an eye on our stories to stay up to date with all the latest swaps, we'd also love for you all to get involved, so if you have any ideas please tag us in your posts or stories so we can re-share them!
How to make a sustainable swap - Carry out an audit of what you currently consume and see if you can eye up any swaps to reduce your plastic consumption. A few common ones could be:
- Plastic free period products (check out some of pebble mags suggestions)
- Try a plastic free toothbrush and toothpaste
- Test out a shampoo or conditioner bar
- Switch out for a reusable razor
We hope you can join in with us this plastic free July and reduce our consumption!
If you are looking for some great places to get more information on how to reduce your plastic consumption as well as stay on top of the latest news, be sure to check out the following pages!