Do your bit for planet’s plastic problem

Monday July 10, 2017 Written by Published in Environment
Alanna Smith and Liam Kokaua with some of the “plastic-free” samples available at Te Ipukarea Society. 17070610 Alanna Smith and Liam Kokaua with some of the “plastic-free” samples available at Te Ipukarea Society. 17070610

Every July, over a million people around the world participate in “Plastic-Free July”, a challenge to refuse single-use plastics for one whole month.


Plastic-Free July aims to raise awareness about the problems associated with single-use disposable plastics and challenges people to do something about it.

Over the years, the world has become a plastic society. We have plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic straws, plastic utensils, plastic wraps and plastic to-go containers.

Plastic is a substance the Earth cannot digest and therefore every bit of plastic that was ever created still exists today.

Unlike with other materials, recycling plastic is not a sustainable solution. In fact, “down-cycling” is a more appropriate term than recycling, because plastic never actually goes away. Instead, it gets transformed into another form of plastic material.

Unfortunately, most of the plastic that we use goes into the landfill or ends up in the ocean. Plastic pieces on the ocean surface now outnumber our sea life 6 to 1.

Furthermore, plastic today now makes up 90 per cent of all floating trash on the ocean’s surface. Not only is plastic bad for our environment, it can also be bad for our health. Plastic chemicals like BPA can be absorbed by the body and studies have shown that these chemicals have been found to alter hormones and contribute to cancers.

Plastic pollution is a global problem that humans alone have caused. But we all can be a part of a plastic free movement to reduce this pandemic that we are currently facing. Ways to kick start your own Plastic-Free July challenge and possible lifestyle changes include:

• Remembering to take reusable shopping bags with you whenever you go shopping. This will immediately cut out all of your plastic shopping bag waste.

• Support cafés that use biodegradable cups or straws, or take your own so that it can be reused.

• Remember to also reuse items such as water bottles, cups, bags or utensils. We then have to start refusing products that come with plastics, for instance saying no to plastic bags or no to the use of straws.

• Only purchase items that come in sustainable packaging like glass or paper.

• Buy fresh and go local instead of buying frozen meals, as many of these frozen meals come in containers that have plastic in them.

• Consider the option of using a bar of soap as opposed to hand washing liquid

• Finally, write down why you are wanting to make a change to a plastic free life. This will make it feel more real to you. Then, place it somewhere you will see it often to act as a reminder.

Te Ipukarea Society applauds the pro-active local businesses that are helping reduce our use of plastics. These include CITC, who no longer import polystyrene food packaging. 

Maire Nui Gardens and Rendezvous Restaurant only offer re-useable bamboo straws, and Prime Foods are working with BTIB to eliminate polystyrene food packaging at their night markets.

Te ipukarea Society next to Bamboo Jacks also has some samples of biodegradable paper straws and bamboo straws if you’d like to drop in for a look.

Now that you have a few pointers and tips to keep in mind, challenge yourself and see if you can go plastic free until the end of July - and beyond!

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