JULY is Plastic-Free Month, which inspires millions worldwide to take their own bags when shopping, make use of reusable cutlery and crockery or simply choose to not use a straw, among other things.
The Amanzimtoti community is urged to take a stand for at least this month and take up the challenge to use less single-use plastic items.
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The detrimental effect plastic has on the environment and the continued threat it poses to all the Earth’s living beings is well known, however not enough is being done to combat the mass churn-out of this substance every day. Alternative methods need to be put into play drastically, or the world will surely succumb to its own material obsession.
Instagrammer and local teacher, Michelle Lang (23) has taken to social media through her page ‘More Sass Less Trash’ (@moresass_lesstrash) to spread ways in which she not only reduces her own plastic usage, but shares how others can too. From goofy recipes for natural and plastic-free toothpaste, to reminding followers of the importance of choosing reusable bags when shopping, her ideas are both creative and inspiring.
“I’ve always recycled and been passionate about the environment,” said Michelle.
“However, I wasn’t very conscious of exactly how much plastic I was using everyday until a friend of mine explained to me that straws, for example, will out-live me and my children’s children.” Michelle realised there was no way these facts could be ignored.
Michelle then took the first and easiest steps to a plastic-free life, by refusing plastic bags and straws.
“I just used reusable bags and bought myself a bamboo straw and a different stainless steel straw,” she explained. “I also started composting all my food scraps, which really gave me insight into how much waste I was already eliminating. I was sending less and less black bags to the landfill, which then inspired me to go further and see what else I could swap out, which for me was take-away cups.”
Michelle admitted that continually learning about new plastic-free alternatives has become an amazing hobby.
When asked about challenges she faces along the journey to a plastic-free lifestyle, she admitted that the biggest challenge is the supermarkets.
“South Africa is only now only starting to be aware of our plastic usage, so the stores are still using excessive packaging for their products,” she said, and said that one has to know which stores carry loose fruit and vegetables.
“I think ignorance is bliss, those who don’t understand my lifestyle think their one plastic straw won’t make a difference, but that’s eight billion people saying their one piece of plastic won’t make a difference everyday,” she said.
Michelle’s friends and family have been extremely encouraging and have even purchased reusable straws, following their environmentally-conscious friend’s lead.
For those who are keen to take the first step towards a plastic-free lifestyle, she advised them to refuse plastic packets and invest in a few reusable bags.
“Make sure to leave them in your car and near your door, so you grab them on your way out,” she said. “Definitely refuse straws. Sip your drink or use a reusable straw. I can’t tell you how many straws I pick up when on the beach. Once these things become habit, then go further by refusing other single use plastics.”
Michelle shared her local recycling spots.
“There’s a glass bin behind All Out Action Sports Bar in Warner Beach. Paper bins nearly everywhere. A plastic bin by Pick ‘n Pay Arbour. Once you take up the opportunity to recycle and compost, you are left with virtually no rubbish in your black bag at home,” she beamed.
Michelle has taken her environmentally-conscious living a step further and grows many of her own vegetables and herbs. All food scraps that are composted nourish these plants, which bring no plastic packaging into her home, proving another great way to reduce plastic.
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