The Great Dispatch
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The Great Dispatch

Co. Plastic Free July Organization

Embracing Brands That Champion the Planet During Plastic Free July…

Over the last two years, the topics of sustainability & environmentalism have risen to the top of the global agenda for governments, organisations & individuals alike.

Now in its 12th year, Plastic Free July consists of more than 250+ million participants from 190+ countries around the globe, each pledging to give up (or at least reduce) single-use plastics use for the month of July.

While Coronavirus made reducing our reliance on plastic more challenging, the two years of lockdowns & self-imposed restraint for many individuals & brands actually represented a good time to stop, rethink & take stock about ways to live & produce, deliver & consume products more sustainably.

There is no escaping the issue. Plastic is everywhere in our everyday lives: from shoes, clothing, cosmetics & tea bags, to the very packaging (polystyrene & bubble wrap) used to protect & wrap goods purchased online & delivered to our doors. According to The Big Plastic Count, UK households throw away an average of 66 pieces of plastic packaging a week, amounting to a nationwide total of nearly 100 billion pieces a year.

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Whether it’s the sourcing & manufacturing of products, working with partners who focus on more eco-friendly delivery options, or providing supply chains that are more efficient & sustainable, consumers are beginning to vote with their wallets in favour of brands that offer products & services that are ‘greener’.

While giving up or reducing plastic usage might seem a trifle insignificant when confronted by the enormity of the global climate emergency, thinking about our connection to the environment & how we as individuals or collectively as organisations & societies can affect positive change (closer to home) is still important.

When it comes to Plastic Free July, the key to remember is that perfection is neither a realistic or achievable target for 99% of us, but that is ok.

Co. Plastic Free July Organization

Even reducing plastic usage & overall waste by 10 per cent is a great way to start something that you can hopefully take forward into the other 11 months of the year too — think of the impact that would have if 8 billion people were to do just that!

A zero-waste or plastic-free lifestyle is not easy & the privilege of these types of lifestyles can often be considered elitist or inaccessible to large sections of society & we have to do more to break down these stigmas & make them more achievable for the many, not simply the affluent few.

It’s up to us as consumers to demand brands actively reduce their dependency on plastics & practice more sustainable business models, manufacturing processes & eco-friendly supply chains. Whether you decide to go entirely plastic-free this July, or just make a couple of changes, here are five things we can all do to celebrate the 12th year of this remarkably positive movement:

1. Find stores where you can bring your own containers & buy in bulk to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging. You can also replace clingfilm & glad wrap with reusable bees wax food wrappers too

2. Cut out the single-use plastics by using reusable coffee cups & water bottles when you visit Starbucks, or try bamboo utensils when you’re out having a picnic or taking your lunch to the office

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3. Thousands of tonnes of plastic microbeads from products such as face scrubs, hand wash & toothpaste end up in the sea every year, where they harm aquatic wildlife & finely balanced ecosystems. Check the backs of products & avoid cosmetic products that contain microbeads

4. Look for fashion brands that are actively reducing their plastic usage in packaging & production. Kanken Fjallraven, Quiksilver & Patagonia are just a few well-known brands that have actually produced product lines made entirely from recycled (ocean) plastics

5. As consumers we have more power than we think. Vote with your wallet & spend your dollars with brands using technology to reduce plastic usage in their supply chain packaging & delivery processes, not just manufacturing

For those of you that this has sparked an interest, you can search further for a brand’s sustainability credentials by looking at who they partner with & buy from those brands that work in alignment with experts like Manhattan Associates & DHL who actively promote ‘greener’ supply chain methodology, delivery methods (such as EVs) & offer carbon offset options too.

Co. Getty Images

Reducing our reliance on plastic as consumers or industry is not something that will happen overnight. However, with enough consumer sentiment & enough corporate innovation to match, all 12 months of the year could be plastic-free by 2030.

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James Canham-Ash

James Canham-Ash

Communicator, sportsman, history-lover, enthusiastic world citizen, political onlooker & aspiring BBC WS presenter, not always in that order — TMO.