Plastic Free July - By Donna Lehmann


Like most people, the global pandemic has meant more time at home for me and my family.  Gardening, home improvement, cooking.  There are two things at my house no longer contained-my waistline and my recycling bin. Loungewear is a comfortable solution for my personal spillover, but the other is a bald-faced testament that I am not as eco-savvy as I like to think. 

To be clear, I use green bags, reusable metal straws, and buy less packaged options.  I spend my free time at the Marine Discovery Centre challenging kids to connect the dots between our day to day activities and the impact it has on the environment.  What better time to reflect on how I can reduce plastics in our household than Plastic Free July.

Plastic Free July is a global challenge to reduce our use of single-use plastics.  The pandemic has made this more challenging.  I want to support my favorite local restaurant during restrictions, but the amount of single-use plastic to deliver a family meal makes dinner less palatable.  As South Australia moves to phase out single-use plastics, we have four voluntarily plastic-free precincts trialing eco- friendly packaging. This is an initiative I am proud to support and has helped us avoid more plastics in our bin and cupboards.     

Thankfully, the bulk of plastics recovered from kerbside recycling bins are processed into new products in South Australia, but contamination can result in a load diverted to landfill. I was surprised to learn that soft plastics are a common contaminant in recycling.  Some Coles and Woolworths supermarkets have designated receptacles for soft plastics collection, so keeping these separate for return will help ensure most of my plastics get recycled.

As the saying goes, all rivers flow to the sea. This includes the river of plastic waste we generate in our homes. At the MDC we are concerned about marine pollution; at least eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into the ocean each year.  This plastic injures wildlife and eventually accumulates in ocean gyres as massive rubbish islands.  Global initiatives like The Ocean Project provide hope of removing this plastic with specially designed nets. Recovered plastics will be recycled with products available for purchase to help support their ongoing work.   

Until we can reopen safely for open days we encourage you to follow us on Facebook or sign up to our newsletters where we can keep you up-to-date with the latest activities at the MDC.  We are inviting school visits again and look forward to sharing our knowledge and resources to provide a fun outing for primary school children across Adelaide.

By Donna Lehmann
MDC Volunteer