What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of an iconic villain? Is it Darth Vader? Thanos? Maybe even your boss at work? What if I said it was plastic? At this point, I am sure we have all heard about how plastic is “bad for you” or “ruining the environment”, and you may even be tempted to laugh it off and just coin that fear as another baseless scare “hippies” try to spread around. On the contrary though, plastic is an evil that is widely-used in our daily lives, all while having a “working lifespan” of less than one half of a football match (45 minutes)! You still might not feel frightened if I were to tell you that plastic is killing more than 1.1 million seabirds and animals every year, but you would if I told you that microplastics make their way into our food.
Did you know that plastic only truly boomed into the mainstream usage we see today as late as the 1960s? If people back then were able to navigate their lives without plastic, it means we surely can as well in 2021 with the plethora of alternatives that are available to us! Despite this, plastic seems to not have an end with billions of users around the world, which is why this July, and every July, people around the world commit to take a pledge to participate in a global movement known as “Plastic Free July”. With almost 120 million global pledgers, the fight against plastic has never been bigger as people aim to change their habits toward a plastic-free world using the tips we will be discussing right here!
In the year 2018 alone, the amount of people that joined in on the Plastic Free July movement meant that a 490 million kilos of avoidable plastic waste was prevented from being released into the environment. Statistics like these prove that the change that we may deem as trivial in the grand scheme of things, may actually have an impact that is bigger than what we actually imagine.
Let’s Tackle this
For instance, tackling the “big four”, namely plastic straws, bottles, coffee cups, and bags, is often the best way to start. It’s often easier said than done; it really is as simple as replacing your old habits with new ones. For example, instead of opting for a plastic coffee cup on your commute to work before disposing it in the trashcan a mere five minutes later, you could pick up a reusable cup from home that you carry every day. A helpful tip could be to actively observe your trash in order to find out what areas you can reduce your waste in. Or, if you notice that you are using an obscene amount of baby wipes and diapers for your new born, you can acquaint yourself with reusable wipes or cloth, or even bamboo diapers. How about if you are on your way to your weekly grocery tip and notice a lot of plastic bags in your shopping cart? Carry a “green bag”.
Let us Pledge, together
Your allegiance to Plastic Free July doesn’t just have to be limited to your choices. You can also play a role in changing the world for the better by stepping out of your comfort zone and communicating the change to other people. Sometimes, all we need is that one spark, through a conversation or social media posts, to be ignited from a co-worker, friend, family, or even a stranger. So this July, make it your responsibility to engage in a conversation with someone or post on your social media accounts using the hashtag #PlasticFreeJuly to share with people to see, so we can make this world a better place.
Finally, although it may seem intuitive, Plastic Free July extends beyond the month of July in your responsibility against the fight against plastic. As the name suggests, yes, it is an initiative that occurs every July, but as stated earlier, July is the month where people start to gain consciousness to the evil that is plastic. Their duties and efforts in the fight against it, however, sees them go beyond that month as people try to make little SHIFTS in their daily lives. Let’s compare it to a diet, for example. If an overweight person decided that they wanted to lose weight, they would obviously have to change their current lifestyle habits. They would have to exercise more and make the necessary fixes to their diet. But would it make sense for that person to go back to their old habits after losing all that weight? The answer is obviously not! And the same logic applies to Plastic Free July. It would make little sense and would even be impractical for a person to make the recommended changes to their habits to rid themselves of plastic usage just to revert back to it at the end of the month. Remember, this is NOT a fad! Plastic Free July is a lifestyle.
You see, the alternatives are there. It is simply a matter of looking out for them by being mindful about the choices you make. If we want this world to be sustainable enough to see our elders live out the remainder of their lives on it, for us to live our lives on it, and for our children to realize their futures, let us all be reminded of the ultimate villain by participating in this Plastic Free July!