Goodbye Plastic – It was Good While it Lasted

We’ve heard of Dry July, but have you heard of Plastic Free July®?

End of Financial Year
Sounds like a dream-come-true for a paper bags and packaging company like Smartbag!

It’s actually a social movement that’s building momentum across the globe and we’re here for it. We think you should be, too.

With the single-use plastic bags now banned across Australia, you’ve made the swap from plastic to reusable shopping bags for your business. Depending on what you’re selling you might be using simple brown paper bags to suit your brand, or white printed bags emblazoned with your logo, or even glossy laminated bags for a more luxurious look.

But there are loads of other things you can do to reduce those troublesome single-use plastics.

That’s where Plastic Free July® comes in.

What is Plastic Free July®?

Plastic Free July® is a key initiative of the not-for-profit Plastic Free Foundation, set up by a group of fiercely passionate Western Australians.

The award-winning campaign started in 2011 when Rebecca Prince-Ruiz got the ball rolling after she visited the local recycling facility and was staggered by the sheer volume of waste. She went into work the next day and encouraged 40 of her colleagues to join her in going plastic-free for a month.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Plastic Free July® is now one of the most influential environmental campaigns in the world with over 140 million people taking part last year across 190 countries.

Time to End the Plastic Love Affair

Plastic has worked its way into every aspect of our lives since it emerged in the 1900s.

We embraced its convenience and were amazed how it could make our lives easier.

Plastic is found everywhere - in our cars, in our clothes, phones and computers, and our kids play with it. It’s even helped man walk on the moon. But it’s also clogging our oceans and waterways, choking our sea life and birds, and even infiltrating our bodies.

Our relationship with the handy little polymer must come to an end.

Now it’s not going to be easy, and to be honest we’re not going to end our bond completely, but here are a few handy tips to help you start to break up with plastic.

7 Smart Ways to Ditch Plastic

1. We probably need to address the elephant in the room… Has your business stocked up on paper bags?

Single-use plastic bags have been outlawed in all States across Australia with hefty penalties for those businesses that don’t comply. If you haven’t already, it’s time to embrace the old-fashioned cost-effective brown paper bag.

2. What to do with the plastic bags in your storeroom? Before you bin the bags, contact one of the associations who are retrieving the bags and making useful products from recycled plastic.

In New South Wales, register with the Great Plastic Rescue before 22 July to arrange collection of your unused plastic bags. Last year they ran the campaign in Queensland and recycled 1,940 kilograms of plastic which otherwise would have ended in landfill.

If you’re in other States, contact your local council for information regarding plastic recycling in your area. Many councils collaborate with initiatives like RecycleSmart to collect plastics, or companies like Redcycle who provide plastic waste bins in supermarkets.

3. If you’re posting your products to your customers, choose mailing boxes made from recycled material, and instead of stuffing the box with those environmental bandits like bubble wrap and styrofoam packing peanuts consider using newspaper or tissue paper that can re-use again and again.

4. Did you know those strong brown grocery paper bags can double up as great bin liners? Kraft brown paper can be recycled up to seven times before it starts to break down. You can also throw the bags into the compost bin, and if you shred them first, they will break down even faster. FUN FACT: Ever wondered why it’s called ‘kraft’ paper? Kraft is the German word for strength.

5. Can’t get through the morning without a caffeine hit? One coffee every morning on the way to work, 5 days a week = 260 throwaway cups (okay, a little less for holidays). But, still, that’s a lot of waste for one person. So, invest in a keep cup. Or look for Simply Cups collection points where cups are collected to recycle into some amazing things, like outdoor furniture, road surfaces and … more coffee cups!

Some cafes offer discounts to those who bring their own cups, while others have set up mug libraries for take away and return ceramic cups. But if you are still using takeaway cups ask yourself if you really need that lid. If you’re ditching the lid as soon as you walk out the door, then just say no thanks.

6. There’s a great saying that bottled water companies do not produce water, they produce plastic bottles. And lots of them. So stop buying bottles of water. Keep a reusable stainless steel or glass drink bottle on your desk or under your counter and fill up from the tap. It will save you money and stop around 373 million plastic bottles each year ending up as waste.

7. Take your carry bags or calico totes to your nearest farmers’ market and buy only what you need. Avoid supermarket pre-packed fruit bundles wrapped in plastic. Many stores are starting to pack fruit in cardboard packaging, but you can also make a choice about how many deli bags you grab – you don’t need to put that expensive lettuce or a bunch of bananas into a plastic bag.

You may not think making different choices will change anything, but in the words of Jane Goodall: " "Be assured that our individual actions, collectively, make a huge difference."

For more tips on how to reduce plastic, head to the Plastic Free July® website.
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