Plastic Free July: Stories of Plastic Reduction

July 7, 2023
Ernita Amalia
x min read

It's that time of year again – Plastic Free July has arrived!

Plastic Free July is a global movement aimed at raising awareness about plastic usage and encouraging people to take action by reducing their plastic consumption. While solving the plastic problem requires collective efforts from governments and companies, we firmly believe that individual actions have the power to drive collective change. That's why, in the spirit of Plastic Free July, we reached out to our team at Seven Clean Seas and asked them to share their personal experiences and perspectives on plastic reduction. We wanted to provide you with real stories, honest reflections, and practical tips and tricks to help you embark on your own journey towards reducing plastic waste.

The inspiration and impact

When it comes to starting any journey, finding inspiration is key, and our team members found theirs in various places. For many, education played a significant role, with books and documentaries like Blue Planet and A Plastic Ocean opening their eyes to the wonders of our oceans and the urgent need to protect them. Furthermore, working in the waste management sector exposed us to the scale of the plastic problem, as we collected hundreds of plastic bottles from beaches, households, and rivers every day. For example, we collect around 470 plastic bottles from beaches, households and rivers around Batam every day! These plastic bottles are found polluting underneath houses of coastal communities and harming the lives of marine animals, like mangrove crabs and horseshoe crabs.

Witnessing firsthand the devastating effects of plastic pollution on coastal communities and marine life motivated us to take action.

Nevertheless the inspiration to our plastic reduction journey, reducing plastic consumption benefits the planet and also has positive impacts on our personal lives. By consuming less plastic, we help prevent it from entering our environment, conserve valuable resources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic production. Additionally, our survey revealed that reducing our own plastic usage sets an example for others and can inspire systemic change by driving demand for sustainable products. Moreover, embracing a plastic-free lifestyle can make us feel better about ourselves, lead to healthier choices, increase our environmental consciousness, generate less waste, and foster an appreciation for long-lasting products.

Low-hanging fruits

When it comes to living sustainably, it doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Our team members shared simple changes that can make a significant impact. Those simple changes, although they may be small, could make a significant impact. Here are some actions you can do to help you get started: 

• Embrace reusables: Incorporate reusable items like food containers, water bottles, coffee cups, straws, and shopping bags into your daily routine. By reusing what you already have, you reduce the need for new materials.

• Opt out of plastic: Make powerful choices by excluding straws from your drinks or refusing plastic bags for takeout orders. Every small step counts!

• Support local and eat in-store: Choose to dine in or buy from local businesses instead of relying on takeout or online delivery. This not only reduces plastic consumption but also helps the community and lowers your carbon footprint.

• Explore secondhand shopping: Discover the eco-friendly joys of secondhand shopping, where you can find unique treasures while reducing waste and supporting sustainable consumption.

• Utilize clothing pockets: Make the most of jackets or clothes with ample pockets to carry reusable items or even small groceries. It's a convenient way to reduce reliance on single-use plastic bags.

• Plan and buy in bulk: Be a conscious shopper by planning your grocery trips and purchasing items in bulk. This reduces packaging waste and allows you to prioritize essential items.

• Snack on fresh fruits: Instead of reaching for pre-packaged snacks, opt for nature's delicious treats—fresh fruits! This choice not only minimizes plastic waste but also contributes to a healthier lifestyle

• Reuse deoxidizer sachets: Give a new purpose to those deoxidizer sachets found in product packaging. Use them to prolong the life of your razors and other personal care items, preventing rust and mold.

Lastly, choose what reduction initiative is suitable for you and continue building the habit. To make the habit easier, make sure you place your sustainable items where you’ll be reminded, like keeping a tote bag on your vehicle. Surrounding yourself with people with the same lifestyle is a gamer changer. Their enthusiasm and support will not only help you be on track but also encourage you to explore more. However, don't let yourself feel pressured to do as well or more than you realistically can.

Remember that everyone’s plastic reduction journey looks different and your environment and where you are at in life, will determine what changes are available to you!

Challenges faced

Reducing plastic waste may sound straightforward, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Our team members highlighted the lack of available sustainable substitutes as a significant hurdle. Certain essential products, personal care items, and even some food items still come wrapped in plastic, making it difficult to eliminate entirely. Additionally, cost can be a factor, as plastic-free alternatives sometimes come at a higher price. We also acknowledged that the accessibility of living a plastic-free lifestyle can vary depending on the country of residence, with some areas more dependent on plastic than others. For example, here in Indonesia, street snacks and fresh produce, like tempe and tofu, oftentimes come with plastic bags. Convenience, particularly in online shopping and take-out services, although are amazing to get our things delivered to our door, often leads to excessive plastic packaging. Navigating these limitations requires finding the right balance and identifying actions that align with our individual circumstances.

Innovative ways to upcycle

Even with our best efforts to reduce plastic consumption, it's inevitable that some plastic items end up in our waste bin. However, this challenge has inspired us to think outside the box and explore innovative ways to give plastic a second life. For example, our team member have found a creative hack that turns plastic bottles with a prism bottom into a sunlight distributor by half filling the bottle with water, and using this to light their house attics.

Another way to repurpose used plastic is by reusing plastic cups as a container for water-potted plants or upcycling old garments into a one-of-its kind statement piece.
We've even discovered how to upcycle old clothes into durable dog toys that provide hours of entertainment!

Join the movement

We want to hear from you! Share your plastic reduction journey with us. We're eager to learn from your experiences, challenges, and victories. Together, we can make a real difference and inspire others to join us on this crucial mission to reduce plastic waste.

By sharing our stories, personal perspectives, and practical insights, we hope to motivate and empower others to take part in the Plastic Free July challenge. Let's create a community of like-minded individuals who are committed to reducing plastic waste and leaving a positive impact on our planet.

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