The (lightly edited) text has been taken from the Plastic Free July  website... the comments in red are my observations

The challenge is quite simple…attempt to consume no single-use plastic during July.

Plastic Free July is a simple idea developed in 2011. It aims to raise awareness of the amount of plastic in our lived by encouraging people to eliminate the the use of single-use plastic during July each year.

It is an initiative of the Western Metropolitan Regional Council (WMRC) in Perth, Western Australia. It was developed by clever Earth Carers staff.
Plastic Free July started as a local community initiative in Perth’s western suburbs in 2011 to educate residents on the important notion of ‘reuse’.
In 2012 Plastic Free July expanded across Perth and even attracted interstate and international interest.
So in 2013 we’ve throw it open to the world!!!

So what do they mean by plastic free?

We have set some basic rules but have deliberately left the challenge simple so you can consider the issues and decide how it will work.

How can I go plastic free when everything around me is plastic?
Don’t worry, you can still use your computer, phone, car, etc during July. The challenge is about reducing single-use disposable plastic such as bags, straws, water bottles – you know, the packaging that you use for five minutes but lasts forever.

What do I do about milk?
Some brands are available in glass or cardboard cartons, just ask your local store or do an internet search for brands.

NB cardboard cartons will be plastic lined

Check out our recipes to make your own soy and nut milk.
How do I get meat, chicken and fish that is not in plastic bags/wrap?
Ask for it to be wrapped in paper or bring your own container, most shops are happy to fill them.
It’s best to explain what the challenge is about – otherwise shop assistants tend to put their hand in a plastic bag to pick up your produce and then throw the bag away!

What about using biodegradable or other environmentally friendly bags?
Single use plastic is, well, single use plastic. The idea of the challenge is to avoid single use plastic, however its made. ‘Biodegradable’ and ‘environmentally friendly’ are both terms without a single definition and can have wide ranging meanings.

I use compostable plastic (PLA) because my challenge includes finding sustainable packaging. If I am going to use compostable disposable paper then I am going to use compostable disposable cornstarch plastic

Is foil okay? As in foil around chocolate or chip packets?
Again, it depends how serious you want to get about the challenge!
Apparently chip packets are often made out of metal coated plastic film.
Use the scrunch test to check whether it is aluminium foil. If it springs back when scrunched in the hand it is not aluminum foil and most likely contains plastic!

I do not use plastic coated foil. The scrunch test does not work on certain types of plastic coated foil – you can read more here.

Are cans okay to purchase? I hear they’re often lined with some kind of plastic.
It depends how serious you want to get about the challenge!
Apparently most tins and cans are lined with plastic – usually containing BPA. (All most all tins are plastic lined)
There is information on the net about health concerns with these types of cans. If you want to be completely authentic about the challenge you would keep those tins in the dilemma bag.

Just keep any plastic you buy for your dilemma bag.

They do not mention glass jars with those pesky plastic lined metal lids. All metal lids are plastic lined!

So their definition of plastic free July (and believe me I am in no way being critical here) can mean only giving up what is obviously plastic (and only plastic) one-use packaging. Composite items like plastic coated card and tins are not necessarily included. Now the purists amongst you may well argue that products containing plastics fall well within the remit of  a single-use plastic and I (with reservations) agree. Here’s why…. 

  • If you want to raise awareness about how much plastic we really use then hidden and less obvious plastics have to be included. So many people for example are unaware that cardboard containers  have a plastic coating.
  • If you are at all concerned about BPA leaching into your food then you really need to know that tins are plastic lined.
  • You can find out more about sneaky plastics here ( watch out for those cardboard boxes with plastic inners)

However giving up tins, plastic lined papers and glass jars with plastic lined lids does make the project much harder….and while I feel that these points are important and do need making,  I think it is fine to tailor plastic free July to suit your own needs and circumstances. So it could mean anything from total hairshirt- no plastic- arghhhh to giving up one particular type of plastic, replacing a disposable with a reusable or going plastic free for a day.

According to Katheryn at Second Hand Tales “when you register there are different options ranging from living plastic free for a day, week or the whole month. You can also choose to avoid all single use plastic or just the top four which are:

1) straws

2) plastic bottles

3) plastic bags

4) coffee cup lids”

So go with what feels comfortable and do what you can.  As it says on Plastic Free July website …

“Remember it is a challenge, not a competition. The challenge is intended to make you think about all the single-use plastic you consume every day. Whatever you can cut out is a job well done!”

If you are giving it a go, in whatever capacity, please do link up with me @polytheenpam and others in the UK on twitter #pfjuk. And you can find lots of other bloggers here


3 thoughts on “My take on Plastic Free July

Leave a Reply