Get excited, because Plastic Free July starts today! What began as a small movement in Australia in 2011 has since expanded to over 150 cities with millions of participants worldwide.
Plastic Free July’s challenges people to try and go the whole month without single-use plastics, in the hope of helping them adopt more sustainable habits beyond July.
Plastic is a huge part of our everyday life, and it can be hard to make the switch. To ace the plastic-free challenge, you’ll need to prepare and plan ahead. UWA Student Guild Environment Department has put together some useful tips and tricks to make ditching plastic a breeze!
Even in Perth, July can get nippy outside. When the weather is cold, there’s nothing quite like a hot chocolate or coffee in the morning to warm your insides. To keep your daily coffee run(s) plastic-free, bring along your own reusable cup. Request to have your drink made in your own cup – lots of places now offer a discount for going reusable, so it’s a no-brainer really. Don’t have one? All Guild outlets sell a wide range of student-priced reusable, easy-to-clean cups from KeepCup and Frank Green starting at just $10.
Save the turtles
Plastic straws are one of the biggest forms of plastic pollution in the ocean. Get yourself in the habit of saying ‘no straw please’ when ordering a drink this month – the turtles will thank you.
Stay hydrated, stay woke
The plastic-free tool that’s always got your back – a sturdy, reusable water bottle. Even in the winter months, staying hydrated is incredibly important for avoiding getting sick and keeping your skin glowing. Make your water bottle your best friend and don’t leave home without it! Water fountains are everywhere, or if you’re out and about, café staff can always fill it up for you if you ask nicely!
Lift your tote bag game
It takes a hot second to get into the habit of bringing reusable bags with you when you go shopping, so set yourself up for success by pre-placing bags all over your home, car and in your work or school bag (you’ve definitely got a million spare lying around). Take it one step further and DIY a tote from t-shirt using this tutorial (no sewing required!): https://youtu.be/zgpaM3u2zng?t=23
Goodbye plastic-wrapped snacks, helloooo bulk bins
A huge source of single-use plastics for many people comes in the form of pre-packaged snacks, like muesli bars and lollies. You can easily switch it up and get your snack fix (probably with more nutrients and at a cheaper price) from bulk food stores. They have everything from raw ingredients, to make-your-own nut butters, and to ready-made snacks you can buy by the kilo. Plus, these stores often provide paper bags or allow you to bring your own produce bags/containers to fill up. Bulk food stores near UWA include Angry Almond (Nedlands), Tonic Health (Nedlands), Kakulas Brothers (Northbridge), Kakulas Sisters (Fremantle) and The Source Bulk Foods (Floreat).
Switch up your personal care routine
We go through so many personal care items such as deodorant sticks, plastic razors or tubes of face wash, but they are usually non-recyclable in your standard council-run recycling. Use Plastic-Free July as your excuse to start exploring some different options like a package-free shampoo bar, all stainless steel razor or cream deodorant that comes in a glass jar. Such products are sold at Urban Revolution and EnviroBren (our 2019 EnviroFest stallholders), and at all Lush stores.
Rethink and refuse
Plastic Free July challenges its participants to consider the environmental impact of everything they do. Don’t always go for the cheapest and most convenient option, learn to choose the most sustainable one. You’ll find it’s more cost effective in the long run as the non-plastic options usually last longer. Examples of ways to rethink your impact include refusing to order takeaway food from venues that only offer plastic tableware; buying secondhand clothing from markets and op-shops; learning to repair rather than buying new; and shopping at farmers’ markets where produce is often plastic free.
Don’t give up
Walk into any supermarket and you'll see aisles upon aisles of plastic-covered products. There is so much pressure on the consumer to make the right decision, but it's unfair that all the blame and guilt falls on us, when we find ourselves forced to choose a product in plastic packaging. If you slip up, don't give up - try again and learn from the experience. Think about how you can avoid it next time. This challenge is all about learning and understanding your own individual habits, so how you can work out how to change them for the better. Approach Plastic Free July with this mindset and you're guaranteed not to fail.
Participating in Plastic Free July this year? Tag @uwastudentguild_environment on Instagram during your journey for a chance to be featured!