Plas­tic push goes global

WHEN Fre­man­tle’s Re­becca PrinceRuiz founded the Plas­tic Free July move­ment, she was only look­ing to change what went into her own bin. Six years later and she says the move­ment now has more than one mil­lion par­tic­i­pants in 130 dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

Fremantle Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Jes­sica Nico

FRE­MAN­TLE’S Raw Kitchen is all about healthy, sus­tain­able eat­ing, so when the op­por­tu­nity arose to make their busi­ness more en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious, they took it.

The Raw Kitchen is one of many lo­cal busi­nesses taking part in this month’s Plas­tic Free July, an aware­ness cam­paign cre­ated by Fre­man­tle’s Re­becca Prince-Ruiz that en­cour­ages in­di­vid­u­als, busi­nesses and com­mu­ni­ties to re­duce the plas­tic they use.

Raw Kitchen co-owner Heath Daly said they had been work­ing hard to re­duce sin­gle-use plas­tic pack­ag­ing since the busi­ness opened eight years ago.

“We chose to use com­postable pack­ag­ing right from the start of our busi­ness. It was a per­sonal choice as we have al­ways had an eco-con­scious per­sua­sion,” he said.

“Hav­ing said that, it was the Plas­tic Free July move­ment that ed­u­cated us on just how big the sin­gle-use plas­tic prob­lem is and it was then that we changed our re­tail shop pol­icy to only stock­ing items that come free of plas­tic pack­ag­ing, as well as stock­ing all of the plas­tic-free liv­ing items we could find.

“We save 20,000 straws a year by re­fus­ing to of­fer them with our drinks, and of course take­away con­tain­ers and plas­tic pack­ing of the food pro­duce builds up to quite a lot over the course of a year if the pro­pri­etor is not con­scious of the ac­cu­mu­la­tive waste.

“We are a health-based busi­ness, so it would be a lit­tle hyp­o­crit­i­cal for us not to care, re­ally.

“Once you be­come aware of the mag­ni­tude of the plas­tic prob­lem, it be­comes ther­a­peu­tic to do your part.”

Ms Prince-Ruiz said Plas­tic Free July be­gan in 2011 with just 40 par­tic­i­pants and had now been adopted by more than a mil­lion peo­ple around the world.

“Af­ter a visit to a re­cy­cling fa­cil­ity where I saw first­hand the sheer vol­ume of one sub­urb’s re­cy­cling be­ing sorted, I knew some­thing needed to change and it was af­ter that visit that I made a pledge to avoid the pur­chase of any new sin­gle-use plas­tic for the next month, which hap­pened to be July,” she said.

“Our use of plas­tic is grow­ing rapidly and al­most ev­ery piece of plas­tic that was ever made is still in ex­is­tence.

“Re­cy­cling is im­por­tant, but it’s never go­ing to be enough – we need to re­duce, re­use, refuse, re­think and re­pair.

“Plas­tic Free July has given house­hold­ers the sup­port they need to re­duce their plas­tic use and in 2016 alone there was a re­duc­tion of 17 mil­lion kilo­grams of plas­tic waste avoided through the chal­lenge.

“I cer­tainly never ex­pected it would get to this scale – my aim was to change what went into my own bin.”

Visit www.plas­ticfree­july. org for more in­for­ma­tion.

Pic­ture: Will Rus­sell d471121

The Raw Kitchen’s Heath Daly and Re­becca Prince-Ruiz, co-founder of Plas­tic Free July.

Pic­ture: Will Rus­sell­mu­ni­ d471121

Raw Kitchen owner Heath Daly is taking part in Plas­tic Free July.

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