What is the #PlasticFreeProduce campaign?

It is a collaborative campaign designed to expose (and break) our collective addiction to unnecessary plastic packaging. It’s unacceptable that fresh produce is being packaged in increasing amounts of plastic. Almost all of this packaging is ‘virgin’ plastic, it is not recycled, and much of it will never be recycled. It ends up poisoning the land, the sea, and the food chain. I believe most people would agree with me if they become aware of this issue. Before the average consumer can reduce their reliance on plastic, they have to become aware and ‘see’ plastic. Since my plastic awakening, I now regularly document examples of plastic overuse in connection with food on my social media channels. I also encourage my followers to do the same. Take a photo of an egregious example of plastic usage when you’re out and about and post it to your preferred social media platform with the hashtag #PlasticFreeProduce in the caption. Bonus points for tagging my Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter handles when you do so 🙂 I regularly run competitions from my social pages, with plastic-free prizes on offer, so get involved, and help break our plastic addiction. Here are some free downloads to help you get started.

I thought recycling had taken care of plastic?

Unfortunately, no. Almost all of the packaging we see is ‘virgin’ or new plastic, it is not recycled, and much of it will never be recycled.

Plastic is non-biodegradable. It does not revert to organic matter, it breaks down into micro-plastic or ‘micro-poison’. Much of it is washing into the ocean, where it collects additional toxins and is ingested by marine life. It will either kill the marine life, or we will catch it and eat the flesh, plastic, toxins and all. We’ve only been using plastic for a relatively short time and already, in some places, 25% of the fish have plastic in them.

Plastic is mostly made from oil, which is a non-renewable source. One day we will run out of oil, that means one day, we will not be able to make plastic. Now is the time to change ‘the model’ and create a sustainable way to buy our food.

Increasing recycling or using biodegradable plastic each have their own complexities and are not the solution. We need to revert back to a system where we don’t use any ‘single-use’ plastic. We don’t need our food gift wrapped.

Are you a proponent of a zero waste lifestyle?

I think a zero waste lifestyle is ideal, and I have diligently tried to reduce my plastic usage but I feel most businesses are making this very difficult to achieve. This is because there are so few ‘plastic-free’ options. So, one of my major objectives is to pressure corporations to stop packing in plastic and to stop over charging for plastic free food, so a zero-waste lifestyle can become a stress free, achievable goal for everyone.

I believe that by addressing our plastic addiction, the door will open to exposing other aspects of our modern lives, built around convenience. I’m convinced that once you ‘see plastic,’ it will have a flow on effect to changing other aspects your life.

Should you like more information on living a zero-waste life there is a Facebook group that offers support called Journey to Zero-Waste.

Why all the fuss? Shop at farmers markets instead!

I think it’s great to support your local markets and grow your own vegetables, but I’m aware that the average consumer isn’t particularly interested in this. My work focuses on plastic packaging across all of society, from roadside stalls, to the local green grocer and yes, the major supermarkets. The success of my work to date is because I speak as an ‘average consumer’. I’ve found people are more open-minded to my campaign work when they can see themselves in me – a busy, working mother, juggling life’s responsibilities.

It’s hard to go plastic free, where do I start?

The issue of plastic is overwhelming once you become aware of it, but there are simple, immediate things you can do now:

  • Take reusable carry bags with you when you shop. If you forget your bag, find an empty box in the store or just put your goods in your trolley, loose.
  • Purchase some small re-usable produce bags for loose items such as fruit and vegetables. Produce bags, such as The Fregie Sack, last for years and it means you can skip all that plastic in the fresh produce section.
  • Don’t buy coffee in disposable cups (they are not recycled). Switch to a reusable option, such as a KeepCup.
  • Instead of buying drinks in plastic bottles, fill a reusable bottle with your favourite drink, or even better yet, cool water.
  • Take your own cutlery and plate with you if you eat in a food court.
  • Ask for “no straw,” when ordering a drink at a cafe or restaurant.

Also, these six things have really helped me to reduce my plastic usage in connection with food:

  1. Buy bulk rice in a fabric bag and always have some cooked and in the fridge, ready for use.
  2. Boil some eggs and always have a few available in the fridge.
  3. Switch butter for avocados.
  4. Buy bread or bread rolls from a bakery without plastic.
  5. Buy loads of fresh food without plastic, this will improve your diet and reduce the amount of prepackaged food you purchase.
  6. Cut back on the convenient snack foods you have in your cupboard. If it’s there, you will eat it, if not, you’ll grab something from the fruit bowl or quickly put together a plate of rice, eggs and salad or have an avocado and tomato toast 😊

If you’re ready to go further, Sarah Tait of Wander Lightly, has many plastic free living solutions. She even has a nifty store here.

Please tell me you’re a vegan. What, you’re not a vegan?!

Since I became an accidental activist, I have been overwhelmed with the wonderful support I have received from people all over the world. Unfortunately though, my work sometimes triggers people. This is especially so with the issue of veganism. Some vegans refuse to accept that I’m not one of them. It’s not good enough that I have greatly reduced my meat and dairy consumption, I’m just not pure enough. However, I object to the idea that any one individual or belief system has a monopoly on purity. If you’d like to argue with me, please read my final words on the matter here.

Can I meet with you to pick your brain?

Eww, that sounds gross! Oh, you weren’t being literal, you’d like me to collaborate with you instead? The #PlasticFreeProduce campaign is my sincere passion, yet it’s a side hustle on top of employment, finishing the follow up to my first book, and looking after my children and husband. At this stage, my full schedule means I’m not available for any collaborations outside of this.

Come on, surely you can give me a free consultation?

Nope, sorry. If you would like personalised answers to questions from me or a private consultation, my fees are $50 AUD per hour for a typed response or $100 AUD per hour for a Skype interview (conditions apply). Public speaking events will be custom quoted. The proceeds go straight back to my campaign work. If you would like to book an appointment, please email me anita.whale.girl@gmail.com with details on what you want and how and where you will use the information.

If you have a general question or want to share information, please feel free to comment on a post on this site or visit my very active Facebook or Instagram pages. My followers are very supportive and may be happy to answer your enquiry, and I will see your comment.

Is there an exception to your ‘no free consultation’ rule?

Yes! I will give free radio or video interviews for mainstream media if they will be aired for the public.

I love what you do. How can I help you continue your campaign work?

I only work two days a week in my paid job so that I can donate the rest of my time to my #PlasticFreeProduce campaign work. My income is insufficient to cover my web-hosting, t-shirt printing, travel, and the many additional costs involved in my anti-plastic work. My most pressing needs are a new mobile phone and laptop for my public speaking presentations. If you like what I do, please consider making a donation here. Even the smallest donation will be helpful and appreciated.