Living Plastic Free this July
If the drought in the Western Cape and Day Zero taught us anything it was our ability to change. Give us a definite date when the water will be turned off and we become motivated to change our behaviour. We either panicked or we made a plan but we all became prepared for an uncomfortable change.
I kinda wish the same would be true for plastic and the ocean. If we knew that in 6 months or a year, the ocean would stop being a living vibrant system choked to death on all the plastic, would we then be motivated to make some changes to our behaviour?
I remember a podcast I listened to which spoke about a receding glacier in Alaska. Even though it was clearly evident that it was melting no one felt that anything needed to be done about it. We as humans have the inability to want to act regarding future negative events. We aren’t wired that way.
So we have just had some wonderful winter weather in Cape Town and with it the seas have returned to us some of our waste. Along with plastic bottles and washed up plastic bags entangled in kelp, what I find along the shore line are plastic bottle lids (coke, fanta, jive etc) and lolly pop sticks. (see photo below) Ironic that two things that are bad for your health are also bad for the environment.
I know I am possibly speaking to the converted and that you all do your bit to keep your single-use plastic low but what if you could take it up a notch and become an activist? Voice your objection when you are given an unnecessary plastic lid, a plastic straw or butter in a plastic container. Speak to the manager or owner about how they could change their single-use plastic.
As consumers we have the power to voice our objection, we also have the power of how we spend our money and because of this can motivate positive change. Businesses underestimate the feel good factor that would come with changing their single-use plastic. Like weighing vegetables at the till rather than having to bag them and weigh in store or better yet stop if retailers took the initiative and stopped selling plastic shopping bags.
Hayley McLellan is an environmental activist at the Two Ocean Aquarium she has been campaigning for the end of plastic shopping bags with Rethink the Bag since 2010 and she is as committed as ever. The story of the whale that died after eating 80 plastic bags should make us stop and change what we do.
So how are you going to change your use of single-use plastic this July and beyond? With this month celebrating Nelson Mandela's Birthday we are always reminded of how we can best serve the world around us and changing our use of single-use plastic could be the gift that keeps on giving.
Here are some changes we could consider making:
* Say NO to plastic shopping bags and show your individuality by choosing your own shopping bags.
* Say NO to plastic straws and call out restaurants when you are given a straw in your drink.
* Say NO to plastic bottled water use your own water bottle or insist on brands like La Vie water in glass bottles.
* Say NO to take away coffee containers and lids, there are some really cool alternatives available.
* Say NO to butter in plastic containers, I have seen Origin Coffee wrap their butter like a sweet in baking paper.
* Say NO to plastic take away smoothie containers and take your own re-useable container. Or at least say no to the lid, which needs a straw.
* Say NO to the plastic bags that are used for fruit, vegetables and keeping all our groceries separate.
* Say NO to shower gel in plastic bottles and use a bar of soap instead.
These are just a few ideas, when you start thinking about it there are lots of ways we can reduce our single use plastic.
So for this month of July get active around plastic, you can even sign the Two Oceans Aquarium Pledge.
My pledge is: “ To always refuse a plastic shopping bag by having my own reusable bags. To stop buying plastic bottled water by always filling up with water at home. To keep saying no to plastic lids and straws and to not be afraid to speak out against single-use plastic”
You too can pledge right here SIGN THE PLEDGE HERE
PS There is a great new store in Cape Town called Nude Foods they are completely packaging free and stock healthy foods, natural skin care and green household products. This would be the month to start visiting them.
There are some pretty graphic photos out there showing what plastic is doing to marine life. I didn't want to share these with you but if you type in oceans plastic and click on images you will see plenty of proof as to why we need to change our habits. Sometimes pictures speak louder than words.