Plastic Free July


Plastic Free July

Posted in Food Systems, In the News on Jul 28, 2022

Written by Alannah Smyth
We’re almost at the end of Plastic Free July, a month dedicated to increasing awareness and decreasing use of single use plastics (SUP). In general, the purpose of the month is to draw attention to the issue of plastic waste and inspire and enable people to make simple changes to reduce their use of plastic. People are encouraged to sign up to take part in the month-long challenge, where your goal can be anything from avoiding SUP packaging, targeting specific plastic takeaway items (e.g. coffee cups, bags, bottles or straws) or eliminating plastic entirely. 

Our dependence on plastic is pretty obvious when it comes to food, and most of us would struggle to avoid plastic packaging of some sort in the weekly grocery shop. Since food is something we all buy very regularly - it’s likely where a lot of our plastic waste comes from. However, it’s not completely inevitable that you’ll end up with oodles of excess plastic after every shop - it just requires a little more thought and a few habit changes. There’s also some food companies and retailers making leaps and bounds toward a plastic free world - which helps make it easier for each of us to do our bit. So, as opposed to marching to the beat of the same old drum and banging on about all the bad news about plastic - here’s our round up of some of our favourite tips and most inspiring news finds this Plastic Free July. We encourage you to have a read and take charge of your own plastic-free life (because why stop at just a month). However that works and whatever it may look like for you, remember - small actions can make a big difference!

This awesome infographic of Simple Swaps for the Kitchen
A super neat find, courtesy of Wellington City Council. This brilliant poster can be printed and hung up on the fridge at home or even at work to help inspire a few simple tricks to reduce the amount of plastic we use. 

The 2021 Plastic Free July Annual Report
Granted for most of us reading an annual report doesn’t scream inspiring - but this succinct and eye-catching seven pager is a great wrap up of the measurable impact of last year’s campaign. Our favourite take homes are.. 

  • 140 million participants;
  • 301 million everyday plastic items refused;
  • 2.1 million tonnes of waste reduced; and most importantly
  • 87% of participants made at least one lasting change. 

Flight Coffee - One of our homegrown plastic waste reducers
This New Zealand coffee brand not only sources organic, fair trade and sustainable coffee beans from small growers in Myanmar, Rwanda and Colombia - it also supports Future Post. As the packaging bags they use contain plastic they’ve partnered with Future Post to recycle these into plastic fence posts for farms and vineyards. Flight Coffee sells the coffee to its partnered cafes and then Future Post collects the packaging and makes it into posts - how’s that for some waste-reducing, no. 8 wire sounding, good old Kiwi ingenuity! Sweet as.

GoodFor (us and the planet)
Boasting stores in six locations around New Zealand as well as an online store - this plastic-free friendly grocery store makes reducing your waste that much easier, without pinching your pocket. All online orders are dispatched in 100% plastic-free and compostable packaging - which you can either home compost or return to the store for them to take care of. Couple buying your essentials here (or at another similar bulk foods store), and your fresh produce at the farmers market or butcher and you’re going to be looking pretty plastic-free. If they don’t have a store near you and you aren’t keen on online shopping - check out this incredible interactive map of zero-waste shopping options across Aotearoa to find an alternative place to go (produced by The Rubbish Trip).

Plastic-free antimicrobial food packaging is finally here!
A collaboration between researchers and scientists at Rutgers and Harvard University has led to the development of a biodegradable, plastic-free and antimicrobial food packaging being developed. It’s non-toxic, plant-based and applied to foods as a spray - and successfully protects food from physical damage, pathogens and spoilage. So far it has shown to greatly reduce microbial contamination by strains of E. coli, listeria and aspergillus. Since food packaging largely comes down to protecting safety and shelf life - this really is great news for the fight against plastic. 

These 19 Companies Are Ditching Plastic Packaging – Food Tank 
Plastic Free July
Reducing your waste - Plastic Free July - Wellington City Council
The Rubbish Trip 

Photo by Benjamin Brunner on Unsplash

Dr Helen Darling
Dr Helen Darling

Dr Helen Darling is a disruptor. Ever since she can remember she has questioned the status quo. With a background formed in health and a PhD in Public Health from the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Helen has never been afraid to question failing systems; her belief in better food systems is drawn from deep personal experience across the food supply chain. Aside from obvious experience as a consumer, Helen is involved in the development and protection of a novel fruit (set to disrupt the horticultural sector), produces and sells summerfruit, founded a company (Oritain) that geochemically provenances food and fibre, has sat on a national science based board (the Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research, ESR) and an international standard setting organisation (United States Pharmacopeial Convention) as both a member of the Expert Committee on Food Ingredients and the Expert Panel on Food Fraud. Helen has also represented NZ in international fora on food systems.


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