Plastic Free July. What’s it all about!

Plastic bottle washed up on a beautiful pristine beach

And what’s the problem with plastic anyway?

It is really useful but it’s causing a big problem for our planet.

It’s thought that over 5 trillion pieces of plastic are in our oceans and the trouble is, it isn’t biodegradeable so it doesn’t break down, it just breaks up into tinier pieces.

400 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year and 40% of that is only used once and then thrown away. Every year,  8 million tonnes end up in our oceans.  These figures are so huge they're hard to visualise.  But what’s shocking, is that if we continue at this rate,  experts have warned that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!

The last year has been a period in which the issue of plastic has been broadcast to millions of people through programmes such as Blue Planet ll and War on Waste. Sir David Attenborough says he's astonished by how people have responded to the plastic issue he raised in his latest series.  With the increase in the development of sustainable alternatives to plastic and awareness of the issue through films, social media and campaigns such as Plastic Free July, Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Campaign and Take 3 for the Sea, many of us are rethinking how we use plastic.

Since inception in WA in 2011,  the Plastic Free July movement has grown to involve millions of people in over 150 countries with a vision of a world without plastic waste.

The 2018 theme for Plastic Free July is Beat Plastic Pollution,   encouraging people to #ChooseToRefuse single-use plastic.  It’s a reminder that as individuals we do have the power to alter a business’s behaviour through the choices we make,  the power to instigate change and to be a part of the solution to “one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time.” UN

It’s about avoiding single-use plastic packaging, focussing on the top 4 takeaway items,

Bags - Bottles - Straws - Coffee Cups   Straws in the ocean, collected by Sea Shepherd

The good news is, substitutes for these things we use daily, are now readily available, but habits take longer to change. The 400% jump in sales last year of reusable coffee cups made by Aussie company KeepCups, post the War on Waste programme, demonstrates that we can and are changing our habits.   

Going plastic free may seem at first easy but it’s harder than you think and requires thought, planning and a change of habits!  Plastic emerges in places you wouldn’t imagine, in the clothes you wear, the bedding you sleep in, the chairs you sit on!

And however hard you try, when buying products it can be tricky to avoid buying things wrapped in plastic or less obviously, that have plastic in them.  Did you know…many tea bags contain plastic!  

The supermarkets are beginning to share the responsibility banning free single use plastic bags.   Redcycle can also be applauded for making it easier for us to recycle our soft plastics which they use to create new products such as outdoor furniture.

At Ecodownunder we take our footprint seriously and continually review the way we do things searching for more environmentally friendly ways to deliver luxurious linen at an affordable price. We’ve made fantastic progress in eliminating plastic from the business and ensuring that nothing leaves our stores or warehouse that will go to landfill.  Focussing on working with our suppliers, we’ve ensured that our bed and bath ranges will be packed and delivered to us in  ecodownunder organic cotton shopping bagorganic cotton bags.  And when a purchase is made, online or in store, the sheets and towels are packed in one of our beautiful reusable organic cotton bags!  

It’s been quite a challenge.  A king size wool underblanket or wool quilt is a bulky item so we had to design and produce super-sized cotton bags to fit these product ranges.  But it’s so important to us that no single use plastic leaves our stores.  We’re confident that these bags will be used again.  They’re perfect for storing a winter wool quilt when the summer weight wool or cotton quilt goes on the bed. It’s much better for the quilt to be stored in a fabric which can breathe than in plastic which doesn’t allow the natural flow of air.

And we use smaller organic cotton shopping bags to deliver purchases like organic cotton or luxury cotton sheet sets, or towel packs to customers.  These bags have so many other uses in addition to being a compact, carry- everywhere handy shopping bag.  We’ve heard from customers that they make great bread bags, and as they’re made from organic cotton, no chemicals will transfer to your food!  They’re used as beach bags, school bags, library bags, swimming bags, laundry bags and we’ve even seen them used as sand bags holding down a beach tent on a windy day!!  Plus you can pop them in the washing machine to keep them looking fresh!

ecodownunder organic cotton shopping bag   

 We don’t mind! We’re just keen to see them re-used.

Plastic packaging is obvious.

Every year, we produce over 400 million tons of plastic,  and 40%  of that ends up in the world’s oceans.

If we all stop using bags,  straws, bottles and cups made of plastic it will make a huge difference, reducing the amount of plastic that goes into landfill or our oceans.

Understanding where plastic hides is the next big step in  reducing further plastic from entering our oceans. 

 What’s next?

This might feel like the season for fleece and cosy microfibers, but remember they’re plastic!

It’s now understood that microfibers are causing huge problems in our oceans.  These are tiny particles of fibre which come from synthetic textiles when they’re washed, and end up in the ocean.  This is the time of year when buying a fleecy throw or blanket might appeal.  The natural alternatives of wool and cotton are so much more comfortable and the beauty is they don’t shed harmful particles which end up in the sea.  So when you feel chilly and want to add layers to your bed, think natural fibres!

Join the challenge choose to refuse  "Choose to Refuse" single-use plastic during July!