I'm quitting plastic: Plastic Free July 2013 is not the end, only the beginning

My first Plastic Free July ends tomorrow and I have decided I'm quitting plastic.

Why? Simply because this challenge held a mirror up to my life and my habits...I do alot of buying without thinking. I don't think about the people affected by the manufacturing of the item or where the packaging will end up. I use a lot of plastic, more than I need. Way more than I realised. It's scary and sad. In the first week my dilemma bag was full of plastic straws (not against them myself but I don't need one), plastic bags, produce bags, coffee cup lids from my chai, food packaging, takeaway, online clothing purchases....AGH! 

I'm not anti plastic, only anti the misuse. Plastic has been beneficial in health care and transport. But plastic packaged junk food, maybe not?!

Of course the whole problem is not on me, alone. There are big companies and big people making alot of money out of plastic. So while I *try* to quit plastics on a personal level, I also be will work to figure out what I can do to change beyond the individual. There has to be something. 

It's not just the huge amount of plastic that has led me to this decision. There is also the upsides to reducing my plastic; I ate healthier food, saved money, took the bin out less, enjoyed more of my life without opening my wallet. 

So this little space on the internet was going to be a travel diary of sorts. Move aside, it's now a blog about plastic free living.

I never imagined watching one movie would lead me a big lifestyle change. But there you go. It has.

Here is a round up of why I'm going to continue this plastic free challenge beyond July

The environment surrounding the petrochemical factories and manufacturing facilities and recycling and landfill... are commonly low economic and being introduced to polluted air, water, food sources. My role as a mindless consumer encouraged corporations creating the plastics to continue taking advantage of poor communities. My purchases were part of the chain that endangered a persons health due to lax environmental laws and unfair working environments propped up by the Westerns obsession with stuff and convenience. The more I read the more I realise how Western practices really screw over non-white people. So while I'm learning about this I'm also looking at how my own life has attributed to this and what I can do to make changes in the future. 

Eight million metric tons of our plastic waste enter the oceans from land each year. It migrates through our creeks, rivers, beaches and storm water run off, through different circumstances. Ocean currents take the plastic to gyres, creating large areas of concentrated plastic in our oceans. During the plastics movement, marine animals becoming tangled init pollution and are mistaking it for food. Albatross on the Midway Atoll are dying due to the heavy amount of plastic pollution found in traditional feeding areas. Here in Australia, vast quantities on turtles are dying due to the ingestion of plastic bags. What's worst is many communities also rely on polluted areas as their food source. 

From extraction to production, the manufacturing of plastic has a heavy impact on the environment, polluting air, soil and ground water. It requires the use of fossil fuels, oil and gas, both of which are non renewable resources. The pollution from fossil fuels contributes to 19,000 deaths every day. Then there is the resources, waste and danger associated with shipping nurdles (plastic pellets before they become a single us plastic spoon) around the world. Once plastic is used and disposed of, it does not completely breakdown.

Unlike organic matter nothing in plastic is returned to the soil for nourishment, food or life. It will sit around clogging up landfill or end up in our rivers, oceans, forests and deserts, releasing chemicals into the environment. Plastic is disturbing the natural environment everywhere.

Plastic can break apart, becoming microscopic particles known as micro plastics. They act as magnets for other harmful toxins like DDT. Scientists are seeing these micro plastics entering our food chain, being found in fish, honey, beer and salt.

Potentially harmful chemicals / Bisphenol A (BPA), Bisphenol F (BPF), Bisphenol S (BPS), Phthalates, Vinyl Chloride, Dioxin, Styrene; the list of the chemical compounds found in plastic that could cause reproductive and brain development, asthma, obesity, diabetes and cancer did not sit comfortably with me and I was left wondering; did I really need these chemicals in my life? Was the uncertainty of these chemicals worth the risk? The answer was no. I understood that some plastics have become necessary in our lives. For instance in medicine and transport. But much of the plastic I was using, exposed me to these potentially harmful chemicals, could be avoided.

Recycling is a bandaid
I used to think recycling would solve our environmental issues that greenies were always going on about. I was a lazy recycler, meaning many items that ended up in my recycling bin, were put in there under the guise that someone on the other end would figure out for me if it was truly recyclable. I quickly realised that recycling in the not the solution. While our recycling levels have increased, so has our consumption. How much we consume is the issue and recycling does nothing to curb it. 

There is no away
The rubbish we put into bins is collected away from our homes, but does not go away. Because there is no away. It's only transported to the outskirts of our cities, taking up valuable agricultural land, to sit around for eons never truly breaking down. All the single use plastic and frankly everything else we toss into bins will be left around for the next generation to deal with.

They were just some of the issues I discovered and I'm sure there will be more to learn.

I can't wait to share my new life without plastic. It sure will be an interesting journey. Gosh, I wonder what my boyfriend is going to think! Maybe we'll see if we can use a mug from home to get his take-away coffees...or just sit in?  

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