Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July has been and gone for 2018 – but we can all still help the environment by making a few small changes in our day to day living, and aim to be plastic free for life!

Plastic Free July takeaways

What is Plastic Free July?

Plastic Free July is a global initiative that aims to reduce plastic usage and increase recycling. They encourage individuals to become more aware of just how much plastic they’re using – and how they can reduce it.

Their mission for our world is to become cleaner and greener for future generations – currently it’s trending in the opposite direction.

Why get involved?

Every single piece of plastic you’ve ever used still remains in the earth today! While a lot gets recycled and repurposed through Council’s kerbside collection, a large amount still ends up in our landfills and natural environments. It is estimated that around 40% of global annual plastic production is going landfill, and about 30% is leaking in the environment, often ending up in the oceans.

Unfortunately, a large amount of plastic ends up in our waterways. All marine life – from whales to turtles to tiny fish – mistake plastic for food. This leads to entanglement, starvation, dehydration, internal damage and death. For the animals that survive, plastic becomes part of the food chain, threatening marine ecosystems and our own human health.

How to get started

This involves changing your behaviour and making a habit of choosing to refuse single-use plastic. It’s easier than it sounds! 

Don’t know where to start? First step – check out the Plastic Free July website to learn more. Take the Plastic Free July quiz – if your answers aren’t, “I’m doing this now” to some degree, then here are a few things you could either start or be doing more of to reduce the impact of single-use plastic waste. 

  • Ditch the plastic water bottles – grab a reusable bottle from home.
  • Sip that flat white inside a cosy café, or use a keep cup to takeaway
  • Say no to plastic shopping bags – bring your own reusable bag
  • Love your turtles… use paper or stainless steel straws… or just enjoy your refreshment without one.

Culling these four materials from your life is simple – it doesn’t take much to bring your own shopping bag and water bottle from home, or bring a reusable container to put those takeaways in. You can also have your coffee to drink-in at your favourite cafe, buy a keep cup, or even have it to takeaway without the plastic lid. 

Bags in the Wild tours

Our Southern Landfill team offers 'Bags in the Wild' tours to residents to witness first-hand the devastating effects of plastic in the wild. 

Systems are in place to try to contain flying litter, but the combination of lightweight single-use plastic bags and other plastics, combined with Wellington’s iconic winds, means it is difficult to stop all plastics escaping the landfill. When they get into the surrounding environment they can threaten native birds such as pukeko and kereru, as well as polluting nearby streams.

The ‘Bags in the Wild’ tour is suitable for adults and supervised children, including school groups and community groups. Tours can be booked by emailing waste.education@wcc.govt.nz or calling 04 383 4442.

But wait, there's more...

We’ll continue to advocate for the end of single-use plastic bags and plastic straws, will be rolling out more Public Place Recycling bins, and supporting sustainable organisations through our grants like Boomerang Bags NZ , Sustainable Coastlines, the Sustainable Business Network, and The Formary.

You can also check out our top tips on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle for all-year round Plastic Free July, it’s better for the environment – and your wallet.