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Plastic Free July tips with Katie O’Brien

Plastic Free July tips with Katie O’Brien

By Leia Talbot

As part of Plastic Free July at Brighte, we invited Aussie expat Katie O’Brien to host a session to educate our team on how her journey going plastic free in Japan.

Katie runs, a Japan-based plastic free lifestyle Instagram account. After experiencing an impactful ocean swim among plastic waste at the popular Japanese beach of Kamakura in 2018, Katie started her plastic free journey and since then, she has been connecting with fellow eco-enthusiasts, sharing tips and documenting how much plastic waste was produced in her household each month.

Katie spoke about the plastic free movement in a way that felt accessible and realistic. Not aiming for perfection but aiming for small consistent changes. It was awesome to hear Katies own story on how she started limiting her single use plastic.

We thought it would be a great opportunity to share some Katie's key points that resonated to me and the wider team.

Katie O'Brien presenting to Brighte for Plastic Free July

4 steps to start your plastic free journey

To help break down the task of reducing our plastic waste, Katie sectioned it off into four steps:

  1. Our food consumption
  2. Plastic free alternatives
  3. Eco cosmetics and cleaning
  4. Reusable and natural options

1. Our Food Consumption

Looking at bulk buying, not having set recipes in mind when shopping - to go pick plastic free products first and make a recipe with them (very chef like). She suggested creating relationships with your local small business to see if they would keep a few loaves of bread unwrapped for you or package your meat/fish in a container you bring.

2. Plastic Free Alternatives

This one felt achievable, swapping out what you would normally buy with something that is plastic free. Like egg cartons made from cardboard or buying toilet paper in bulk from companies like Who Gives a Crap.

3. ECO cosmetics & cleaning

In this section Katie looked at alternative swaps for her cleaning supplies, skin care and makeup. Switch to using shampoo & conditioner bars like ones from Ethique, making your own cleaning products from kitchen items - a great recipe is from Karissa's Vegan Kitchen or going back to good old bar soap.

4. Reusable and natural options

This is the final step in cutting down your plastic waste and it’s the only step that encourages you to buy something new. The list of items above are examples of swapping your choices. They’re the same things you usually would buy but in a more conscious way. Katie's last step is about investing in your plastic free journey by purchasing things like soda streams or investing in products made from natural materials such as wood - that will age better.

Katie O'Brien sharing all the plastic waste she collected in her journey

Playing the long game

My main take out from Katies talk is that we need to treat any behaviour change as a journey. Her example stuck with me; if you love Tim Tam’s, go ahead and eat Tim Tam’s and don’t feel guilty about the packaging, you can start with something else.

You do not have to go completely plastic free for the month of July – the key is to make a small change. This will lead for greater awareness and, hopefully, greater change.

Thank you Katie, for sharing your story and teaching us that the journey starts with one simple action.

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