Cape Town - The international Plastic Free July movement has begun with many local organisations looking to increase awareness around plastic pollution and ways to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment.
Plastic Free July founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz said making a difference was as simple as swopping out the usual disposable coffee cup with an eco-friendly version, bringing reuseable bags to get groceries, or switching to soap instead of using bottled wash products.
With the conversation about plastic pollution intensifying, there have been calls for more urgent action from companies to increase reusable packaging and dispense options in response to consumers' preferences for affordability and sustainability.
Two Oceans Aquarium communications manager Renée Leeuwner said, “As consumers, we have a lot of power. Where we shop, how we shop, and what we spend our money on, is a big indication to the manufacturers of what we need. If there is a bigger demand for sustainable packaging and reusable products, then more of those products will be manufactured, hopefully replacing the single-use items.”
The Two Oceans Aquarium welcomed July with a “Trash Bash” on Saturday which coincided with Plastic Free July and International Plastic Bag Free Day, as well as an Ocean superhero turtle activation that focussed on their turtle rehabilitation and release work, where most of the turtles are suffering after ingesting plastic.
Tegan Gibaud, a Cape Town sustainability content creator studying biodiversity and ecology, said, “While I believe it is not the responsibility of the general public to solve global issues such as climate change, I believe we, as consumers, still have a part to play. The point of Plastic Free July is doing what you can as an individual to reduce your one-use plastic and replicating it in the long term.”
Waste Management Mayco member Grant Twigg said, “There are various organisations developing alternatives to single-use plastic, or environmentally-friendly businesses. I urge all Capetonians to do some research on businesses in their community and support those making an effort to reduce plastic.”
Supporting the movement, The Beach Co-Operations manager Megan-Rose added that they were launching their Plastic Free Mzansi Campaign this month, together with partners to educate the public on the effect of plastic pollution on oceans, the environment, communities and health, with numerous beach clean-ups.