The Great Pacific Garbage Patch exemplifies the problem posed by a consumer culture that relies on single-use plastics and plastic products overall. This vast collection of marine debris has developed as a result of ocean currents slowly guiding discarded plastic to a convergence zone, bounded by the North Pacific Subtropical Gure, where the water itself has taken on a cloudy appearance due to the amount of microplastics that have accumulated.
There is also the even bigger problem of marine debris that sinks below the surface, which scientists estimate to account for around 70% of discarded plastics. This has a huge impact on the surrounding marine life, who may mistake the plastic for food, either eating it themselves or feeding it to their young, or even get stuck while trying to move through it. All of these eventualities have the potential to cause substantial discomfort and even death to the oceans’ marine life.
WHAT IS PLASTIC FREE JULY
The Plastic Free July campaign began in 2011 and was spearheaded by the Plastic Free Foundation as part of its mission to rid the world of plastic waste. The campaign encourages people to ‘take the challenge’ of refusing single-use plastics over the course of July, with the hope that participants will continue to do so after the month ends. Central Park supports the ethos of Plastic Free July, as well as numerous other sustainability initiatives year-round.
TIPS FOR GOING PLASTIC FREE AT HOME AND AT WORK
With all of that in mind, we thought it was a good time to explore some ways to reduce the amount of plastic in your life and enjoy the benefits of a life with less waste.
THINK ABOUT HOW TO SELL IT
Even if you’re 100% on board with going plastic free, it’s likely you’ll experience some pushback from those around you unless you get them onside first. That’s why it’s important to invest some time in thinking about how best to promote the change, whether your target audience is made up of your colleagues or family members. This could include floating the idea along with some compelling statistics on the impact of plastic waste, rather than simply saying that they have to go plastic-free.
It’s also worth considering how you can align your interests - for example, you may have colleagues or family members who aren’t particularly interested in reducing their plastic use for environmental reasons, but may be motivated by financial incentives. For example, switching from single-use cups or utensils to reusable replacements that only have a one-off cost will tend to save money in the long run, even if the initial cost is higher.
It’s also important to be careful with your wording. ‘Plastic free’ can mean different things to different people so make it clear you’re not out to ban reusable plastic water bottles or Tupperware containers that still have a lot of value when it comes to reducing single-use plastic waste.
START WITH THE EASY ADJUSTMENTS
By the same token, it’s usually best to begin with quick fixes rather than bigger changes. Start with the kitchen:
- Coffee brewed with single-use plastic pods? Try a communal pot or even a machine that grinds beans. The initial cost may be higher but you’ll save money over time buying beans instead of pods, not to mention lessening the environmental burden.
- Water served in plastic bottles? Consider getting a water cooler or installing a filter to make tap water more appealing and purchase durable, attractive cups that people won’t mind reusing each day.
- Only one kind of bin? Think about implementing a dual-bin system that separates rubbish and recycling. This system tends to be quite self-validating because people quickly see how many recyclables they were throwing away previously. At the same time, if they need more convincing, responsibly disposing of recyclables with Containers For Change is a great way to earn money back on your recycling, which can then be used to fund rewards at work or at home.
Plastic Free July has also prepared a number of resources which can help you on your plastic reduction journey.
Click here to join in on our Plastic Free July events at Central Park
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