I asked my niece, Skye to send me the story of the commitment she and her partner Mitch have made – not to use any plastic. It is great story and highlights the type of commitment humans have to make if we wish to cease trashing the earth. The photo shows the balcony of Skye and Mitch’s Sydney-based apartment, being utilized for produce generation.

Here is Skye’s inspiring story:

“One year ago, I found myself curious enough to watch ‘A Plastic Ocean’ on Netflix, a film that forever changed my view of life on our planet. After watching this I felt incredibly guilty and responsible for the death and destruction of so much wildlife that I came to the conclusion I could not live with myself if I continued to cause harm.

I have seen some of the most beautiful landscapes and wildlife over my travels and to think my actions were negatively impacting something or someone else on the planet made me feel sick to the stomach. I could not and will not take the planet for granted anymore, I have enjoyed its natural beauty and have pledged to fight for it from then on.

I am fortunate to have a partner in my life that shared this same epiphany and together we committed to Plastic Free July last year and haven’t looked back. I think it is so important to note to people that being plastic free doesn’t mean can’t enjoy food anymore, yes, you have to give up Tim Tams and other biscuits, but food becomes more wholesome and delicious. Being prepared to live without these pre-packaged, double plastic wrapped single use items is essential, but so worth it as we have found alternatives that make us just as happy and satisfied.

Reducing our plastic intake and putting pressure on companies to change is an essential element to help fight climate change. The greatest thing about committing to a plastic free lifestyle is it makes you feel empowered, it is something so simple that makes us feel like we are making a big difference and is our, the consumers, way to help combat climate change.

The plastic problem is becoming more of just an environment problem it is affecting our health in more ways than we know, microplastics are being found in the seafood we eat, in the human placenta (just this year!) and chemicals from plastics are leaching out into our water and in the clothes we wear. Jake Rubenstein from the Earth Day organization outlined that “plastic pollution and climate change are not separate issues, but rather are closely linked in a variety of ways.

According to researchers from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, plastic production and disposal resulted in 850 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 and may be responsible for up to 2.8 billion tons by 2050 (Ref – Solving plastic pollution will help us stop climate change | Earth Day).

It is very easy to feel defeated and powerless, especially as a young person who feels undervalued in society and overwhelmed by the environmental problems around us and inaction of those in power. Refusing plastic and reducing our waste is one of the easiest things we can do to tackle the difficult problems.

My partner and I found it easy to find alternatives and adjust to this lifestyle as there are so many companies and online sites out there that support this movement. It is possible to go plastic free at low cost and low effort if you commit 100%, it is time to start dealing with our waste. My top tips to start your Plastic Free journey that will make the most impact include:

  1. Simple swaps for things that don’t need to be new plastic- produce bags for fruit and veg, compostable bin liners and reusable shopping bags .
  2. Reusable and washable sanitary items for women – I recommend the brand Eco Ladies.
  3. Shop at bulk stores for chocolates, flours, rice, cereals, tea and coffee, chips- anything! Refill glass jars or containers already on hand – no need to buy new.
  4. Any plastic that is single use – say no!

Once you make the first few swaps you realise how much more you can cut out of your life and how achievable it actually is. After all, our great grandparents lived without plastic for centuries, its nothing new!

From mine and my partner’s small apartment we are trying to be as proactive as we can to become a part of the solution for climate change, volunteering where we can in gardens and with councils to plant trees, spreading the word of plastic free through our workplaces and nurturing our own balcony garden and worm farm.

We grow veggies and herbs best we can in a low sunlight area and get to harvest a good amount from it – not all our produce but our cucumber plant last summer gave us more than we imagined.”

I hope this story inspires our readers to make positive life-style changes. It has for our family.

Grant opportunity – Powering Communities Grant

The Powering Communities Program opened on 1 July 2021 and will run over 2021–2022. It provides grants to not-for-profit community organisations to improve their energy efficiency practices and technologies. This aims to reduce energy use, improve energy productivity and reduce carbon emissions.

The program will assist organisations to:

  • Upgrade equipment to reduce energy consumption.
  • Undertake energy management activities and assessments, such as energy systems  assessments and feasibility studies.
  • Invest in energy monitoring and management systems.
  • Invest in on-site renewable energy and solar-connected batteries.

The grant amount will be up to 100% of eligible project expenditure. Grants will be between $5,000 and $12,000. You must fund any expenditure over the grant amount they are awarded.

Community consultation is a critical element of the program. In consultation with their community, each MP must identify potential applicants and projects in their electorate and invite them to apply for a grant. Invited applications will be assessed against the program’s eligibility criteria through a closed non-competitive process.

Each electorate has total funding of up to $67,700 that can be allocated to successful applications. A maximum of 12 projects will be funded in each electorate.

To be eligible you must:

  • be invited to apply by your MP
  • have an Australian business number (ABN)

You must also be one of the following incorporated entities:

  • an incorporated not-for-profit organisation
  • an incorporated trustee on behalf of a trust with responsibility for a community asset or property

Incorporated not-for-profit organisations can include:

  • incorporated associations
  • non-distributing co-operatives
  • companies limited by a guarantee
  • Indigenous corporations
  • religious organisations incorporated under legislation.