Now is a good time to change single-use plastic habits  

Plastic Free July rolled around again and we were all invited to join people around the world reducing their plastic waste. The simple message was ‘take steps to beat plastic pollution by choosing to refuse single-use plastic’. 

The movement began in 2011 and has grown to an estimated 140 million participants in 190 countries taking part in 2022. If you believe your small contribution by reducing your use of single use plastics won’t make much difference, think about this: the global social movement stops around 300 million kilograms of plastic polluting the world each year. That’s a big step towards less waste and a cleaner environment. And it all started with the passion of one woman, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, in a local government in Western Australia! Rebecca was recognised as a WA Local Hero in the 2021 Australian of the Year awards. 

The need to avoid these hazardous plastics has become widely accepted in recent years. We’re used to taking a bag to the supermarket since plastic shopping bags were banned in 2018 and the use of reusable ‘keep cups’ is commonplace. A container deposit scheme was introduced in 2020. Most plastic drink containers that are 150ml to three litres are accepted. From July 1 2022 the WA Government added disposable plastic utensils, straws, disposable plastic foodware and containers without lids, as well as expanded polystyrene take-away food containers, to the banned list. Balloon releases are also banned but balloons are not outlawed and remain a danger to wildlife. 

Further bans will apply from September 1, 2023 including expanded polystyrene packaging, degradable plastics, the expanded plastic cups and trays used for raw meat and seafood, microbeads and cotton buds. 

Now is a good time to prepare for the changes that will follow the September ban by getting into the habit of replacing single-use plastic items with reusable alternatives wherever possible. Many shops including butchers will happily place your items in your own take-away container and there are some great cleaning and personal care products on the market that offer refills. My son gave me a handy gift last year – a voucher to buy eco-friendly products that helped me to stock my kitchen with reusable bowl covers in a range of sizes to replace plastic wrap, a bread bag and net bags for buying fruit and veg. I added soap-bar hair shampoo and a pretty water bottle. The Plastic Free July website offers lots of ideas to help you to reduce single-use plastic waste at home, work, school and at your local café, as well as a ‘shop’ for reusable products.

Changing our habits can be challenging but it’s rewarding to know that you are doing your bit to reduce litter and landfill and to protect our precious environment and wildlife. 

More information:
Plastic Free July hints

WA Plastic ban from September