Did you know that Australians produce 660 thousand tonnes of plastic every year? Plastic is one of our biggest obstacles to building a green future, and while corporations are responsible for 71% of global emissions, we can at least join initiatives in our own lives and communities to encourage ethical thinking—like Plastic-Free July!
Collarts' Sustainability Action Group, made up of Collarts community members who want to raise awareness and motivate everyone to act on our concerns for the environment, are encouraging staff and students to take the challenge. SAG members Head of Fashion Dr Rachel Matthews and Interior Design Coordinator Jenni Woods shared some of their favourite tips to reduce plastic waste this upcoming month.
REPLACE PLASTIC WITH GLASS
We're all guilty of hoarding plastic containers left over from takeaways and then having to throw them out when they smell, crack, or warp. Both Jenni and Rachel suggest swapping your usual plastic for glass, which is washable, hygienic, and recyclable.
Every time you get a glass container—from a jar of pasta sauce, spirit bottle, etc—wash it out and reuse it for leftovers, storage, or even as decorations.
research your council iNITIATIVES
Sometimes our local councils are already working to reduce waste on a community level, with clean and green projects to encourage neighbourhoods to think about their own output. Jenni points out that getting involved in council initiatives can be a great way to contribute to your area.
For example, the City of Yarra have Say No To Plastic, a space on their website to learn more about how to act environmentally-friendly on a day-to-day basis. They also host an interactive zero waste map, where you can discover restaurants with sustainable packaging, bulk cleaning supply stores, and more.
BUY YOUR SNEAKERS SUSTAINABLY
Who knew that sneakers were one of the most environmentally damaging fashion pieces?
"Most sneakers are made from plastic that is not recycled and our old sneakers end up in landfill, where the materials they are made from do not break down," Rachel explains. Luckily, there are brands out there addressing that sustainability issue: Veja, Allbirds, Nothing New, Converse Renew, and more.
And for those looking to throw their sneakers away, Rachel recommends Save Our Soles, an ASGA-run initiative where you can donate your old sports shoes and reusable components from those are used to create new items like gym mats, floors, and playgrounds.
PICK UP YOUR ORDERS IN-STORE IF POSSIBLE
In the COVID-19 era, delivery has been more convenient than ever. But now that restrictions are slowly easing, it's time to consider whether we can pick up our essentials in-store with effective social distancing if possible.
"E-commerce can be great and we all love the convenience of products delivered straight to our door," Rachel admits. "However, these products usually come wrapped in plastic, polystyrene and other materials that go straight into the waste."
Jenni also adds that if you are going out to shop, you might want to take your Collarts tote. "Say no to any wrapping or packaging of items when shopping and always bring your own bag!"