West Australians take part in Plastic Free July

Challenge: The month is already underway but West Australians are still being encouraged to get involved this Plastic Free July. Photo: Shutterstock.
Challenge: The month is already underway but West Australians are still being encouraged to get involved this Plastic Free July. Photo: Shutterstock.

West Australians are being encouraged to get involved this Plastic Free July and choose environmentally friendly alternatives for single-use plastics.

The month-long challenge may have already started but it is not too late to take part and make small decisions to help benefit the environment.

Globally, more than nine billion tonnes of plastic has been made since plastic production started to boom in 1950, of which 91 per cent has never been recycled.

In an effort to help reduce waste, the first Plastic Free July challenge was started nine years ago by Plastic Free Foundation founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz and a small team in Perth, with just 40 participants.

Since 2010, it has grown into a global challenge and one of the most-influential environmental campaigns in the world.

In July 2018 alone, more than 120 million people from 177 countries took part in the challenge, preventing 500 million kilograms of plastic waste around the world.

On average, participants in the challenge have reduced their household waste by 76 kilograms per household, per year and cut their use of disposable packaging by 28 kilograms per household, per year.

Plastic Free Foundation executive director Rebecca Prince-Ruiz said the WA-based campaign helped empower people on an individual scale to be part of the solution to plastic pollution.

"One change can go a long way and one person can make a huge difference to the harmful effects of plastic on human health and the environment," she said.

"If each of us takes just a small step with our own individual challenge, the collective impact can be staggering.

"The growing movement of people refusing single-use plastic sends a signal to business and government that expectations are changing."

Ms Prince-Ruiz added that the effect of committing to reduce plastic pollution for just one month could be felt all year round.

"The Plastic Free July challenge has encouraged millions of people to take small, daily actions and create long-lasting habits that minimise single-use plastic," she said.

"In doing so, we can stem the flow of plastic waste into the oceans by taking positive actions at work and in our homes," she said.

Ms Prince-Ruiz joined WA environment minister Stephen Dawson last week to launch Plastic Free July for 2019.

Mr Dawson said he was also going to take the challenge himself this year and encouraged others to join in.

"My own personal challenge during this year's Plastic Free July is to bring my water bottle with me everywhere and keep refusing plastic straws," he said.

"Single-use plastic products and packaging are commonly littered and have harmful impacts on our environment and wildlife.

"It just takes one small daily step to make a difference in reducing single-use plastics in our lives and we all have an important role to play in collectively making a difference for our state."

Throughout the state, local governments and community organisations have rolled up their sleeves in an effort to reduce their environmental impact, both on a local and global scale.

Watch Your Waste South West, who cover the City of Bunbury and Shires of Collie, Dardanup, Capel, Harvey and Donnybrook-Balingup, have also encouraged the region to get involved.

The waste management group provided plenty of ideas for alternatives to plastic including bringing your own reusable containers for takeaway, cups for coffee and shopping bags or boxes for groceries.

The City of Busselton urged locals to "choose to refuse" and take part in reducing plastic waste throughout the month.

The local government also encouraged participants to tag them in their photos and posts showing their progress and plastic-free choices.

There are plenty of ways to create new habits and reduce your plastic use including keeping reusable bags, coffee cups, straws and water bottles handy to replace single use plastics.

Other ways to join in are to educate family and friends about better plastic choices and spread the word on social media about your challenge by using the hashtag #plasticfreejuly.

For more information about the challenge, visit the Plastic Free Foundation website.