The challenge is quite simple, attempt to refuse single-use plastic during July.

Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it. You can sign up for a day, a week or the whole month, and try to refuse ALL single-use plastic or try the TOP 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.

Last year over 36,000 people from 85 countries joined the challenge.  Bronwyn Lowe from Herbal Dispensary in Raglan says, “A lot of our customers are very proactive and bring their own bags, or choose not to take anything. We also have a plastic bag deposit/exchange system in store and offer boxes as an alternative (we always have heaps).”  This year though the team are going the extra mile with Bronwyn’s mum making hundreds of cloth bags which they will give away free to customers throughout July to encourage people to use reusable bags.

Many great cafes in our region, like Rouge Cafe in Cambridge, see the problem of takeaway coffee cups first hand.  Rouge owner Alana and Phil MacKay won the Waipa Networks Business Excellence in Sustainability Award in 2014 and 2015 and would love more of their customers to use reusable cups.  Someone who consumes five takeaway coffees a week will produce about 14kg of waste a year. If they used their own cup (or a reusable takeaway cup) rather than a disposable cup, this would produce half the amount of carbon emissions, use half the energy and about one-third of the water consumption throughout the process.  This one small change has a big impact.


The Waikato Environment Centre is kicking off Plastic Free July with a plastic free potluck dinner on 28 June at 5.30pm.  Guest speakers are Nicola Turner and Tracey Cameron from Mainstream Green.  Mainstream Green encourages people to make one small change and believe that people can choose to make inroads to a more sustainable life if they focus on changes that best suit their lifestyle.
Nicola says, “Eliminating single use plastic is one simple way to start, with tangible and obvious results.”

The Problem

Plastic is designed to last forever, yet every day we use it for disposable items which last a few minutes and throw away. Most is landfilled, some is recycled and some ends up in the environment. It is estimated that 8 million tonnes enter the oceans per year where it entangles and is ingested by wildlife. Every bit of plastic ever made still exists somewhere and in the first 10 years of this century there was already more plastic produced than the entire last century. – Source

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