Plastic Free July
12 April 2019

Plastic Free July

Plastic! We can’t live with it and we can’t live without it. Or can we? Mariah Appleby is a 21-year-old environmentalist who transitioned from plastic dependence to a more sustainable lifestyle two years ago. Here’s her story:

When did you make the decision to go plastic free? A couple of years ago I was volunteering in South Africa with Reach Out Volunteers and there were plastic bottles everywhere. The ground was littered with them. It wasn’t the locals’ rubbish, it was what had washed up on the beaches. When I came home I thought I’m going to do everything I can to reduce my own plastic use.

What was the first thing you did? I bought a reusable drink bottle. Then I bought keep-cups, bamboo straws and cotton shopping bags, and then worked my way from there finding more alternatives for single use plastics.

What about bathroom products, they’re predominantly packaged in plastic containers? I use shampoo and soap bars or buy in bulk from food stores, bringing my own containers.

And beauty products? I like Lush products because they come in recycled containers and when you send the pots back they reuse them, and once you return five you get a free product, like a facemask, so there’s an incentive to save money as well. I also make my own deodorant; it doesn’t stop you sweating but it stops you from smelling, and I use coconut oil to take off makeup. I use toothy tabs to brush my teeth and have a wooden toothbrush as well.

You mentioned buying in bulk. Where would you recommend?

My favourite places are Moana Health Food store, Suntralis in Lonsdale, and The Source Bulk Foods stores in Glenelg and Mitcham.

What are some of the key benefits of living plastic free? I’m an environmentalist and as a volunteer with Sea Shepherd we do beach clean ups all the time and collect a lot of plastic. I find knowing that I’m not contributing to the problem by not using those plastic items, is a really good feeling.

You encouraged your family to go plastic free. How hard was that? We’ve definitely gotten better. I go to the Willunga Farmers Market every week to buy our fruit and veg, which isn’t packaged in plastic, and as a member I receive 10 per cent off everything, so that’s an added benefit. We also try to buy bread from bakeries and bring our own bags, but that takes a bit more time so some days we buy bread from supermarkets that’s packaged in plastic. But we recycle all soft plastics.

Through Recycle at Coles and Woolworths? Yes.

Beyond the family home, have you influenced other people? I try to; mainly through social media. My Instagram posts are about suggesting a reusable item to replace a single use plastic item.

Like plastic bottles and bags? Definitely, and other single use plastics. I try not to express my own opinion but to show facts and how much of an impact one item has when it ends up in landfill or in the ocean. Then I show reusable products, where to get them, and the benefits of using that product.

Any inspiring words?

There’s a quote that I found which I’ve reposted: ‘What difference is one bottle going to make?’ I found that really eye-opening. It might be one time, or one person, but if a billion people threw that one item away it would have a devastating impact on the environment. Or if one billion people chose an alternative product, that has a powerful impact in a positive way.

Are you part of the Plastic Free July campaign? I joined last year and think it’s amazing.

How can we remove plastic from our lives? The first thing is to refuse single use plastics and have everyday reusables that you take everywhere with you. Usually when you have those, you can refuse almost all single use plastics.

What are they? Straws, bottles, bags, and coffee cups – the ‘big four’.

Do you carry alternative products with you? Yes, always, and I’ve added cutlery and chopsticks, which has been really helpful. You never know when you’ll want sushi.

Tempted to go plastic free but don’t know where to start?

The City of Onkaparinga is offering a number of workshops and activities as part of the Plastic Free July campaign to help you get started and have fun at the same time.

By learning how to make your own produce bags and beeswax wraps to keep your fruit and vegetables fresh, you will evict two of the most prolific plastic items from your kitchen as well as tonnes of waste from landfill. Skill level is low. Fun factor, high. Also, how about crafting your own eco-friendly Christmas and party decorations? You’ll not only personalise your celebrations but get years of enjoyment from them too.

And if you’d like to meet those who benefit from your waning dependence on plastic, a guided beach walk will introduce you to the animals, plants and sea life that share our coast. This up close and personal experience is sure to inspire you to act as their guardian and protect their habitat. Or you might like to join a nature walk and learn how to help create a healthy habitat for our land-based fauna and flora.

There are plenty of workshops and activities on offer in July, with a full program available on the council’s website. Bookings essential. Details below.

If you are unable to participate in the program, you could still have a profound impact on plastic reduction by joining the Plastic Free July campaign. Or, you might prefer to be a passive but powerful campaigner through your purchasing decisions: choosing bamboo or metal straws over plastic, loose veggies rather than pre-packaged, and reusable takeaway cups instead of plastic-lined ones.

Or join forces with community groups such as Adopt a Spot and help tackle the waste crisis en masse.

Go waste warriors!

  • Visit soon for the Plastic Free July program of workshops and activities. Bookings essential.
  • Register here to join the Plastic Free July campaign.
  • Click here to find out what happens to your soft plastics when you return them to Coles or Woolworths.
  • Check out Mariah’s tips on how to reduce single use plastic consumption: Instagram @mappleby_#ReusableLifeAmbassador


Environmentalist, Mariah Appleby, strives to reduce her dependence on plastic; a selection of alternative products; the council’s July’s plastic free program features a beeswax wrap workshop.

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