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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Plastic Free July

The challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to avoid buying disposable plastic in July for;
1 shopping trip
1 day
1 week 
1 month

Now I am not about to boast that I have registered for this event however, I have 3 good friends who have and the awareness it has raised amongst a bunch of us is pretty incredible. See the impact of plastics on ourselves and our world is another one of those intangibles. We put the plastic bag in the back of the garbage truck and it is removed from our lives forever. But if you have you ever stopped to wonder where it actually goes, you realise, its not quite as simple as that. Check out this photo of the central installation from the Out to Sea – The Plastic Garbage Project that just opened in the Zurich Museum of Design, Switzerland.

Every 15 seconds this amount of plastic garbage gets released into the sea

Every plastic bag, every plastic water bottle, every straw, every bit of packaging ends up in the ocean and deteriorates immediately right? Wrong. Most stuff takes more than a single human lifetime to degrade. See the list of very familiar items below...
Glass bottle - 1 million years
Fishing line - 600 years
Plastic bottle - 450 years
Aluminium can - 80-200 years
Plastic cup - 50 years
Plastic bag - 10-20 years
Cigarette filter - 1-5 years
Newspaper - 6 weeks

Ok, so it sinks to the bottom of the the ocean and causes no harm right? Wrong again. Whales get entangled in fishing net underwater and because of their need to breathe at the surface, they can drown, and seals and sea lions get throttled by plastics. Because plastic bags resemble jelly fish in the ocean and sea turtles such as green turtles eat jellyfish they accidentally ingest plastic bags that clog up their digestive tracts and kill them. Look at this link showing the plastic in an albatross chicks stomach. We are all quick to condemn killers - but is it time to look in the mirror?

We ARE the 'plastic generation'. The first generation to use plastic so heavily and be so dependent on it.  We have no idea what the effects of it all are. How much chemicals do we ingest every time we drink a hot drink out of a plastic cup? or when our babies drink hot milk out of a plastic milk bottle? what about when we heat our food in plastic boxes in the microwave? Has plastic just become so 'convenient' that we conveniently block out the hazardous impacts of its use from our minds?

There's a lot of information all over the internet about the impacts of our increasingly plastic-dependent lives, and this blog is not about repeating what has already been said. Instead, through this, I want to 
1. reawaken your awareness about the impacts of your daily actions not just on the environment, but on ourselves and 
2. ask you, are you willing to take on the challenge?

For more about the Plastic Free July initiative and information about how to live a more plastic free life please check out the website

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