#PlasticFreeJuly 2020 – All about Community Support ?

It’s July…do you know what it means? It’s #PlasticFreeJuly !

Plastic Free July invites us to re-think our single-use plastic consumption for a month, to then be able to slowly integrate new changes  in your lifestyle in order to go toward a low-waste lifestyle.

You can read more about it on: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/
The awesome  plastic-free inspiration Sidharta also created a local platform to help you undertake this challenge locally in Mauritius: https://www.facebook.com/events/295901908198465/

As time goes by, I realize – more and more – the importance of Community Support. It’s hard to completely change our lifestyle or ‘the way things are done’ [if we’re talking about systemic changes] when we feel alone… it becomes easier [not always easy, but easier] if we know others on the same path.

That’s why I feel that although individuals changes are very important [& I definitely encourage you to choose at least one resolution for this #PlasticFreeJuly ], it’s also very important to support the initiatives around us  that works to help our community transition to a low-waste lifestyle!
More and more entrepreneurs, as well as community initiatives, focusing on solving waste issues are popping up around the island. Each in their own way, they want to bring their skills and expertise to the bigger puzzle of local sustainability. They all try to help us go toward a low-waste island, bringing forward local solutions to waste issues and wishing to make it easier for all of us to act in sustainable ways. That’s definitely something I want to support personally !

For this #PlasticFreeJuly, I’m super grateful to have been able to visit a few local #lowwaste initiatives – but there’s so many more of them on the island.
You can keep updated on some of them through the community-powered platform Zero Waste Mauritius: https://www.facebook.com/groups/zerowastemauritius/

The first initiative I visited was Precious Plastic Mauritius !

It’s ALWAYS best to #Refuse* [or at least #Reduce] waste, but what about the waste already created?

 

First, let’s take a moment here: why is it always best to Refuse than Recycle? Not everything can be recycled; furthermore, from what can be recycled not everything can be recycled locally. Also, from what can be recycled, not everything can be recycled indefinitely [some items are  only ‘downcycled’ in items of lower grade and can only be recycled a few times- at some point they still go to the landfill]…
Recycling also requires energy and resources [even if less in most cases than creating an object from raw materials].

Nonetheless, if an item can’t be refused/reduced, recycling still allows us to give it a second life [and not have it finish its life in a overflowing landfill] AND saves resources from being extracted to create a new object [and we really need to stop extracting so many resources as at the moment we finish our ‘resources quota’ for the year in the middle of the year…Meaning that if we continue like that, we would need more than 1 Earth to support our lifestyle…You can read more about it on  Earth Overshoot Day].

The thing is, currently  in Mauritius a lot of our recycling is exported [not all, but an important quantity] and we don’t really know what happens to it [not as consumers at least].

Enters Precious Plastic Mauritius !
They want to take our discarded plastic [of course, not a reason to over-use single-use plastic. #Refuse #Reduce] and recycle it locally in objects we can use in our everyday life.

How does it all work?

The different types of plastic are sorted out in the back garden before being crushed in pellets. Indeed, while they can recycle many types of plastic, they can’t mix up different types of plastic.They actually have a super useful board with each plastic properties to be able to differentiate that [super useful if we’re talking about plastic you recovered from nature and that you’re quite unsure of].
Then the crushed plastic [plastic pellets] is separated in different containers, waiting to be melted.
A mold is then chosen and fixed to the 2nd machine who then needs to heat. When the needed temperature is met, the plastic pellets are added and melted in the mold to create the new object!

It’s all done by hand and does require quite some dedication from this amazing team – you can see that they definitely have this plastic pollution issue at heart.

It was awesome to be able to truly know where this recycled plastic goes – and yes, some are already doing it in Mauritius [I’m thinking for example about DKD Company LTD that is recycling plastic locally, but there are many others] , but we definitely need more and more of these !
What differentiate this initiative from more ‘traditional recyclers’ is the focus on education and empowering citizens with knowledge: as environmental awareness is definitely the first purpose of this initiative, not merely the production of recycled goods.  It was great also to see how this initiative was truly integrated and supported by the local community.

 

Precious Plastic Mauritius (2)
They’re trialing a few different products and you’ll soon be able to support them by buying these.
For now, you can support them by subscribing to their plastic collection service if you’re around Pointe d’Esny.
You can also volunteer your time with them: you’ll be learning a lot while helping an amazing cause.
Finally, they’ll soon be doing educational workshops on plastic pollution too…that’s definitely something you can get in touch with them about !
In the same vein of work, Olivier Thomas is also giving a second life [in the same way] to discarded plastic through his initiative: https://www.instagram.com/lokalenplas/

And another similar eco-hub is in preparation for the North: https://freedomplastic.home.blog/

Just with this visit #PlasticFreeJuly could already be starting well, but it didn’t stop here !

As stated, #Refusing is always the first step… I was hence super happy to then be able to visit Naked Foods : a new zero waste shop in Pointe d’Esny !

They’re open as from this week and it’s amazing to see yet another local initiative that want to help us reduce waste in our life – may this way of shopping become the norm !
For those interested, I heard they’d be doing deliveries around the island possibly ?

I personally did some shopping there [mainly dry goods like lentils and such] and I can say that I definitely appreciated the prices being super affordable. They also sell homemade sourdough bread on order [and as always, waste-free].

I included the pics where you can see the ‘refill’ buckets for the dried goods because I love transparency and it shows that the shop is using a ‘refill’ system with these buckets and hence indeed buying with as little waste as possible !

As stated, so many more of these initiatives exist around the island – may we be sure to continue to support and encourage them as they continue to help us change our lifestyle! And then, may we all start to slowly change our lifestyle in order to inspire those around us… because if we can’t find this Community Support, maybe then it starts with us?

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