These last few months, we have seen nations enact a collective response in the face of a global threat, showing us similar action is possible in fighting climate change. In a blog post writing about the intersection between COVID-19 and the climate crisis, María Mendiluce (CEO of the We Mean Business coalition) and Jose Siri (Senior Lead, Science, Cities, Urbanization, and Health, Our Planet, Our Health at Wellcome Trust) state that “…there is a glimmer of hope. For if COVID-19 is a precautionary tale, it is also a crash course in the possible.”
Plastic Free July is one of the best movements around for those wanting to start or further their journey in climate change advocacy. Last year, it helped me make little changes that have accumulated over time. I’m still far from perfect when it comes to leading a low impact lifestyle. However, those small changes made last July were definitely responsible for jumpstarting a habit of implementing green changes whenever I can to lower my carbon footprint. It was also fundamental in helping me gain a deeper awareness of my own complicity in this unfolding global issue.
“Success is the product of daily habits – not once-in-a-lifetime transformations” states James Clear in his book ‘Atomic Habits’. Though a single action taken by an individual may not change much in the grand scheme of things, don’t underestimate the ripple effect it can have both for yourself and for those around you. A single action can lead on to another, and another, and grow into habit, and then a system of habits that supports an eco-friendly lifestyle. You don’t need to overhaul your whole life in one month – in fact, it will probably be more rewarding and sustainable to pick a handful of practices or swaps you can do/use consistently every day.
For a country that has profited so much from its branding as a ‘green’ country, Aotearoa has done disappointingly little to demonstrate the much-needed leadership our world needs to combat climate change. It’s time to change this on both individual and collective levels. And there’s no better time to start than this Plastic Free July.
Here are some ideas on things to try this July:
- Carry reusable shopping bags with you
- Carry a reusable coffee cup
- Carry reusable straws
- Invest in an ergonomic reusable drink bottle
- Carry a set of cutlery in case you end up having an unplanned meal on-the-go
- Carry compostable bags (or even newspaper) to pick up your pet’s poo
- Opt for bulk foods (it’s cheaper as well as having less plastic packaging)
- When buying fruit and veg, buy loose items rather than produce that is bundled up in plastic
- Opt for loose leaf teas or plastic-free tea bags
- Take a bread bag to your bakery
- Take your own reusable container to the deli/butcher
- Use beeswax covers instead of cling film
- Use reusable silicone food bags or tupperware to store food
- Line your bins with newspaper or compostable liners instead of plastic liners/bags.
- Swap your toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss for zero waste options
- Swap to solid shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars
- Invest in Block Docks or alternative ways of storing your plastic-free bars so they dry well and last longer
- Swap your plastic razors for a stainless steel alternative
- Swap to a zero waste deodorant in cardboard or glass packaging
- Swap out disposable menstrual products for menstrual cups and/or reusable pads
- DIY your own body/facial scrub
- Organise a clothing swap. The sad reality is that much of Aotearoa’s clothing bin donations still end up as offshore waste, so if you’re looking to get rid of some of your clothes and get some new pieces, a clothing swap is a much more sustainable way of ensuring you don’t contribute to textile waste.
- Buy second-hand to reduce demand for the production of more clothes. Op shops, vintage boutiques, and designer consignment stores are good places to start if you’re looking for a brick-and-mortar place. Otherwise there are lots of websites and apps designed for re-selling near-new or lightly used clothing.
- Do a clothing audit to see how much of your wardrobe is comprised of plastic or partly-plastic textiles.