It’s time to step up our game and say NO to plastic bags – Plastic Free July is the perfect opportunity!
Friday, July 3rd, is International Plastic Bag Free Day. This important environmental date was created by the Bag Free World, “a global initiative that aims to eliminate the use of plastic bags”.
As we know, plastic pollution (especially from single use plastic) is among one of the biggest challenges we are currently facing, on the environmental front, with more than 1 million single use plastic bags being used per minute.
The problem with plastic is that its easy and convenient. So convenient, that its become an inconvenience! We are surrounded by plastic and its always there as the quick option for carrying groceries, packaging goods or storing items. The bad thing is that, most of the time, the plastic that we use in our daily lives is single use. 50% of the plastic in the ocean has only been used once before being tossed away.
Plastic can take anywhere between 500-1000 years to degrade and during those years it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. These microplastics are so small that they end up everywhere in the food chain, even humans consume about 50,000 microplastic per year, and that’s only through drinking and eating, not to mention the additional 30,000-80,000 particles that are inhaled. So in total that would be between 70,000-120,000 microplastic each year!
But what can do about this? How can we take action for the health of our planet and ourselves? Here are some simple but key tips to help you start ditching that plastic, as well as a few things you can do to celebrate International Plastic Bag Free Day!
TOP TIPS TO DITCH PLASTIC!
Forget plastic bags even exist! So, this one is a bit more of a mindset shift, by creating your own reality where plastic bags don’t exist then you’ll be less likely to forget your reusable shopping bags and end up reaching for plastic ones. This way, bringing your own bags, will begin to feel like second nature. If plastic bags don’t exist, you’re going to have to use something else to carry your shopping, right? And then hopefully you’ll remember to bring them with you! If you do happen to forget your reusables, don’t reach for the plastic bags, either get a paper bag, a cardboard box or simply carry your shopping!
Big bags and small bags. When people talk about ditching plastic bags, they are usually talking about your regular carrier shopping bags. But what about all those small see-through plastic produce bags used for carrying and weighing loose items? You could be using your own reusable shopping bag but if its filled with 5, 8, 10+ small plastic produce bags then, I’m sorry to break it to you, but your well intended efforts are going to waste. The good news is that alternatives do exist!
Local Knysna initiative “What the Bag?” makes its very own reusable cloth produce bags from upcycled fabric and you could even stand the chance of getting one for FREE! For more information check out the “What the Bag?” website.
You can also find some beautifully handmade produce bags on Faithful to Nature, which are sure to make everyone in the supermarket jealous!
The more bags the better. Unlike plastic bags, you can never have too many cloth bags, in fact the more the better! One way of ensuring you’re never stuck without a trusty reusable bag is by having some stashed in all the important places. So keep a bunch in the car, some in your bag, some at home, some at work, some in your kids’ backpacks – literally wherever could come in handy in case you forget them!
POSITIVE THINGS TO DO ON INTERNATIONAL PLASTIC BAG FREE DAY!
- Say NO to plastic!
- Bring your own bags when you go shopping today (and every other day!!)
- Support these amazing local initiatives that are changing the tide on plastic.
Rethink the Bag is a campaign dedicated to creating a plastic bag free South Africa. You can check out our chat with the founder Hayley McLellan in our latest Green Stars Spotlight entry and make sure to visit the Rethink the Bag website to take your pledge and help create a plastic bag free South Africa.
Another campaign doing its bit for the planet is “What the Bag?”, a local non-profit. “What the Bag?” sews reusable cloth shopping bags from upcycled fabric and hands these out for free! Their goal is to hand out 2000 free shopping bags. Make sure to check out their website to help support their goal and get involved! Visit our Green Stars spotlight to meet the “What the Bag?” founder, Sahara Thagunna.
- A fun project to get stuck in and even get the kids involved with, is making your own shopping bags! If you’ve got some scrap fabric lying around, maybe some old pillow cases or curtains, and a sewing machine on handy then why not give it a go and make your very own shopping bag. The best part is its 100% customizable to you! You can find plenty of easy shopping bag patterns and tutorials on YouTube, Pinterest or from the hundreds of crafty blogs out there.
- Spread the message! Tell your friends and family about International Plastic Bag Free Day and get everyone in involved in saying NO to plastic bags.
Remember that International Plastic Bag Free Day is just one day of the year. It mustn’t just stop here. Continue to shift your mindset, change your habits, spread the awareness and take a stand for health of our planet and ourselves.