I’ve always considered myself to be pretty environmentally-savvy.
Recycling was hammered into me and my brother from a young age, along with conserving water and electricity.
So when my friend Karen James – a keeper at Taronga Western Plains Zoo – challenged me to cut down my plastic consumption by using a keep cup for a month, I thought “easy-peasy”.
In fact, I thought ‘why stop there?’
‘I’ll just give up plastic – how hard could it be?’
Karen – who has been 80 per cent plastic free for more than two years now – thought that was a bit cute.
“It will do your head in,” were her exact words.
“To be honest I go without a lot of the things that I enjoy, because they do come in plastic,” she said.
As a zoo keeper, giving up plastic was a no-brainer.
“Over a million seas birds every year are recovered and have died because of ingesting plastic and there’s more plastic than plankton in the northern ocean,” she said.
“Only five per cent of the plastic used is recovered for recycling – so where does the rest go?”
Eventually we agreed on five single-use plastic items I could stop using: take-away cups; plastic cutlery; plastic straws; plastic bottles, and; all single-use shopping and produce bags.
Here was my thought process:
- take-away cups – ‘I hardly ever even GET take-away coffees! Easy!’
- plastic cutlery – ‘I already HAVE reusable cutlery I can use! (If I remember). EASY!’
- plastic straws – ‘I never even use straws! EEEEAASSSYYY!’
- plastic bottles – ‘I already HAVE reusable bottles! And when I do buy a bottle of water, I reuse THAT! EASY!’
- shopping bags – ‘I already HAVE reusable shopping bags! And I don’t USE produce bags – my apples just roll freely around the basket! EASY!’
As you can see, I thought pretty highly of myself and my ability to complete this challenge. I already had most of the things I needed to avoid plastic. I just needed to use them consistently.
There’s the rub.
This is my 'toolkit' for #PlasticFreeJuly— Jennifer Hoar (@JenniferHoar) June 29, 2018
Why not give it a go yourself? Start small - try going without using single-use plastic bags! Bring your canvas bags to buy clothes, not just groceries!
Let me know your pledge and share your journey #SayNoToPlasticpic.twitter.com/LlmRoWzSoX
The more I think about it, the harder I realise this month is going to be.
Because using a take-away coffee cup, or reusable cutlery or a canvas shopping bag is not actually difficult. It’s just a cup. Just a fork. Just a bag. You just have to remember to bring it.
Human beings changing their habits: that’s the real challenge. It all starts with having a go.
Follow my journey on Twitter @JenniferHoar and share your pledges for #plasticfreejuly
Visit www.plasticfreejuly.org/ for more information.