Plastic Free July how to...

Clean Up Your Act for Plastic-Free July and the Plastic Bag Ban

Plastic is on the chopping block in New Zealand this July, and we’re excited for it. With the country-wide ban on single-use plastic bags in full effect from July 1st and the Plastic Free July initiative also kicking off, it’s a good time to be planet earth.

Why should I reduce my use of plastic?

Doing away with as much single-use plastic as possible is one small step for man, one huge leap for the future of mankind and this beautiful earth we need to survive. To put it simply, plastic doesn’t biodegrade for hundreds or even thousands of years when dumped in a landfill. In some conditions, like in the ocean, it can break down much faster—but when it does, it breaks into small pieces of plastic and chemicals that pollute the oceans just as much as litter. 
Biodegradable plastics are being developed, but these are far from perfect, and in the wrong conditions they can last almost as long as normal plastic. For now, the solution is to reduce our use of plastics—especially those superfluous single-use items like flimsy shopping bags, straws, excessive packaging, and bottles.

Where do I start?

Plastic is everywhere in our modern age. It’s covering much of the food we eat, even fruit and veges. It’s used to carry things home, to drink from, to wrap leftovers in, to package just about everything under the sun. We’re not talking sturdy plastic that gets used over and over, like Tupperware, either—this is flimsy stuff that gets used once, maybe twice, and then is ripped or torn and thrown away.
Thankfully for planet earth, there are ways in which we can cut down on this mountain of plastic waste. It requires a good, long look at our consumption habits and a commitment to changing them. Here are our top tips:
  • Carry reusable shopping bags, and use them everywhere! It’s simple, but it greatly cuts down on your plastic waste—and anyway, it’s going to be a necessity everywhere in New Zealand from July 1st. The tricky part is remembering to bring them with you!
  • Always have a refillable drink bottle with you. Single-use plastic bottles are majorly wasteful.
  • Bring plastic containers for takeout food and leftovers at restaurants. Some places might not allow it, but some will—and you might even be able to convince them that they should!
  • Find Bin Inn-style bulk food shops that allow you to bring your own containers, weigh them, fill them, and will charge you by weight for staples like flour, nuts, herbs and spices, beans, rice, and more. Even if you can’t bring—or forget—your containers, they will often offer paper bags rather than plastic.
  • Bring your coffee cup with you! Almost every single coffee place will accept your travel mug/reusable cup, so there’s really no reason to use a single-use cup. Iced coffee/chai/tea drinker? It’s even more important that you bring your own cup, because the cold drink vessels are more likely to be made from non-compostable plastic. Get a double-walled stainless steel one and your drink will stay cold for a long time.
  • Make yourself an anti-plastic kit to take with you in your car or handbag: real metal or wooden utensils and a plastic or metal straw, so you need never use the single-use plastic versions. Just don’t try to carry it on to an airplane.
  • Focus on whole, non-processed food. Your health will benefit, and you’ll also find that it naturally means less plastic and waste. Buy bulk ingredients in your own containers as mentioned above, bring mesh bags for your vege shopping, and try to find a butcher who will wrap cuts of meat in greaseproof paper rather than plastic.
There are plenty more ways you can cut down on the plastic that’s littering your lifestyle, and they could be personalised to you—after all, we are all different in our habits. Take a look at the places that single-use plastic has infiltrated your home, and come up with a game plan to get rid of it as we enter the month of July. 
Reducing the amount of plastic waste we produce is essential to the future of the planet. With the plastic bag ban and Plastic Free July both in full effect next month, now is the time to do it.

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