Welcome to #PlasticFreeJuly
By 2050 oceans will hold more plastic than fish and 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic.
Why Plastic Free July?
We are participants – whether directly or indirectly – actively or passively – in the destruction of our oceans.
This destruction takes place through activities like overfishing, coastal development, tourism and pollution. The creatures in our oceans are being fished for food consumption, or killed as part of the collateral damage of the fishing process, at a rate that is too fast to allow replenishment. Over a 40-year period, 49% of marine species have become extinct. 51 trillion microplastic particles are already within our oceans as waste from the cosmetics industry, which damages marine wildlife. By 2050 oceans will hold more plastic than fish and 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic. As humanity have caused significant environmental injustices against our planet’s oceans through activities of oppression and exploitation.
But we can choose differently today.
#PlasticFreeJuly is a global movement with a mission to dramatically reduce plastic use and improve recycling, worldwide. Sneaky sidenote: the Plastic Free July team actually started with a handful of participants in Western Australia in 2011 (C’mon Aussie c’mon!).
This July people around the planet are taking the challenge to firmly ditch all plastic, or ditch all single-use plastic, or to #ChoosetoRefuse specific single-use plastic products. Others are taking the opportunity to find out how they can begin to reduce their plastic footprint more gradually.
This month is also a brilliant opportunity for us to learn more about what is actually happening to our oceans, through plastic pollution in our waters, and through other forms of marine pollution, oppression and exploitation. This month I’ll be doing a series of posts exploring some of the key issues harming our oceans.
So, what exactly is the issue with plastic and our oceans?
For a brilliant introduction to this issue, watch the incredibly well-made film A Plastic Ocean.
I first watched this last World Oceans Day on 8 June, less than a month ago. Before watching it I thought I had an idea of what was taking place. To an extent I did. But to an extent I was in denial. And to an extent I just didn't know.
Seeing and hearing what is shared within the documentary about the extent of plastic pollution in our oceans challenged me. I’ve been making a conscious effort since then to reduce my single-plastic use and to recycle more.
Some of the quick and easy changes I’ve made?
BYO bags for grocery shopping
Ditched my old toothbrush for a bamboo one instead
Switched to sustainable disposable menstrual pads instead of industry standard disposable plastic ones
Reusable coffee cup always, or at least go topless (lidless!) when you get a takeaway coffee
Plastic straw no more, thank you..
Washing out any plastic containers from takeaways or groceries, and making sure they go into the recycling bin instead of the general rubbish bin at home
Eating in at places instead of getting my meal takeaway, at least a little bit more often…
I’m just in the early stages of learning to use less plastic and to recycle more.
But small everyday choices like this aren’t that difficult, and they make better sense for the planet, for the oceans, for all creatures, including us as humans.
I’m amazed that I didn’t make these changes earlier! I’m choosing not to regret all the days (and years) before now that I didn’t do things like this as standard. What matters now – is today – the decisions I make today and the habits I choose to live out on a daily basis, moving forward.
Whatever decisions we are able to make for ourselves, we are obviously responsible for.
Many of us care about the state of our planet, our oceans, and the creatures that live within, including our fellow humans who are also impacted by plastic pollution and ocean destruction. The decisions that we are able to make say a lot about what we truly value. Do we really care and value our environment, or do we value convenience or a need to fit in with everyone else in the takeaway queue more? It’s harsh, I know – but I’m talking to myself too here!
This Plastic Free July – this day, today – what could your next step be?
Ditching certain types of single-use plastic (e.g. start using a reusable coffee cup)?
Ditching single-use plastic?
Ditching all plastic?
Learning more about how to make these changes?
Learning more about our oceans and the negative impact we as humans are having on it?
Giving to an organisation that works to protect, conserve and improve the health of our oceans?
Sharing about these issues and solutions with others?
Talking your concerns about this issue through with a friend?
There are so many different ways that you can make a decision today that takes a stand for the oceans, for the planet, its creatures and us as people.
What will you choose to do?
If we each do something, imagine what we can do together.
This month, let’s make daily decisions that bring health to our oceans, our planet and all its creatures, including us as humans.
United Nations Environment Programme, Frontiers 2017: Emerging Issues of Environmental Concern (United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations, 2017), accessed May 12, 2018, https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/22255/Frontiers_2017_EN.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y.
UN Environment, “UN Declares War on Ocean Plastic,” UN Environment - News and Stories, February 23, 2017, accessed June 17, 2018, https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/un-declares-war-ocean-plastic-0