Welcome to Plastic Free July!
In 2011, the Plastic Free July Foundation was founded in Australia. The goal was to build a global movement to fight plastic pollution. Ten years after its launch, more than two million people from 159 countries are taking part in the challenge. July is used to raise awareness about plastic consumption.
Plastic is an integral part of everyday life, it is everywhere. In nature, in the ocean, consumed by animals in the form of microplasics, and ultimately ending up in the human body. And the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between North America and Asia now comprises around 80,000 tonnes of plastic.
Plastic bags have been banned from sale in Austria since January 2020. The sale of straws, cotton buds, plastic cutlery and plates, as well as take-away packaging have been banned since 3 July 2021. 50% of plastic waste on European beaches is single-use plastic. What can be done?
So, how can you help reduce plastic? Are you already a Zero Hero?
The water bottle and the tote bag are already your friends? Zero Waste Austria has more tips for you here. And if you want to shop packaging-free in Vienna, you can find the list of unpackaged shops here.
Annemarie started her project “One Year in a Jar” in 2016. She gave up the plastic and was able to reduce the unavoidable residual waste to the amount of a disposable glass in one year. She continues a blog “One Year in a Glass” and is currently writing her first book, which will be published in stores in October. Annemarie took time for a short interview.
Social Held: Dear Annemarie, you started your very private project “A Year in a Jar” in 2016. What brought you to start this experiment?
Annemarie: I watched a documentary “Trashed”. That was it. I was made aware of what plastic does. All this rubbish. Stop, stop, I thought to myself, I have to change something. I was already annoyed by the mountains of rubbish bags before, but I didn’t think that I could change anything. I was impressed and shocked. And then I knew that everyone can do something. Even without having to spend a lot of money. It’s important to start now, even if it’s just small things.
SH: In which area did you find it most difficult to live without plastic?
Annemarie: Definitely cosmetics. Make-up is still difficult for me. Food – now with my children – has become a challenge. It is a big change for many people to go shopping when they have to travel long distances to the unpacked shops. It requires rethinking your routine and a willingness to compromise. It’s good that the supermarkets have already made some changes and that you can buy drinks and milk in returnable bottles.
SH: Do you have any tips for us? How to start saving plastic? Where do you think it is easiest?
Annemarie: It’s really very individual. It depends on your lifestyle and your situation in life. Everyone finds something different difficult. I find it very easy to find alternatives for cleaning products. I need much less of it and it is always possible to reduce it. It’s very easy to make a change.
SH: Think back to your beginnings, where do you see the biggest changes in dealing with plastic since 2016?
Annemarie: I see changes in many different areas. Back then, there was just one unpacked shop in Vienna. Now there are already six. In 2016, there was little awareness, now it is more represented in the media. Climate change has also become more of an issue. The fact that supermarkets offer deposit bottles and reusable bags is a big step. The fact that you can take your own containers with you is also a big step. So it is is slowly making its way into the supermarkets – and that is a big step in the right direction. And the fact that unpacked shops can exist shows that the demand is there and that people are taking advantage of the offer.
SH: You are currently writing a book. What would you like your readers to know??
Annemarie: Everyone can do something! It’s not about perfection, but about being active.