Kaitlyn Gillies rubbishes beliefs that you can’t be plastic-free

Lachlan Roberts 3 July 2019 10

University of Canberra student Kaitlyn Gillies has gone plastic-free for the past 12 months. Photo: Daniella Jukic, wearefoundau.

When Kaitlyn Gillies saw one of her friends sign up to take part in Plastic Free July, she decided to sign up as well so she could do her bit to reduce plastic pollution.

What started out as a one-month experiment to see how much plastic she could cut out of her life, turned into a year-long project and now a new way of life for the 21-year-old university student.

Looking at the past 12 months, Ms Gillies said it was a lot harder than she expected.

“It was a struggle and it doesn’t happen overnight but I stuck at it,” she told Region Media. “I remember coming back from grocery shopping and I was unpacking my bags into the fridge and pantry and I noticed all these things that were wrapped in plastic.

“So I turned plastic free July into a plastic-free year,” she said with a laugh.

Living on campus at the University of Canberra, Ms Gillies found that Plastic Free July was more than investing in a reusable coffee mug – and remembering to use it – but it was a way of life.

“Especially when I was very broke, I was shopping at supermarkets and I was looking at the most inexpensive thing rather than does it have plastic packaging on it,” she said. “There is a lot of balancing.

“I avoid buying food wrapped in plastic and if I do somehow obtain some soft plastic, I will recycle that at Coles with their red recycle program.”

Kaitlyn says going plastic-free is a great money-saver, too. Photo: Instagram.

While Kaitlyn thought going plastic-free may be an expensive project that would hurt her back pocket, she said that instead, she found it was a great way to save more money.

“People believe that going plastic-free is going to be really expensive because they look at the products and see that it is a certain per cent more expensive to buy it,” she shared. “But if you do make that investment, you save money in the long run by not rebuying single-use items.

“I got rid of my single-use plastics in the most sustainable way possible and swapped them for reusable options. To be honest, I saved a lot of money.”

And while the ACT Government is consulting with the public about its plan to ban single-use plastics, stating that it is not sustainable for 23,000 tonnes of plastic to go into ACT landfill each year, Ms Gillies is encouraging others to join in their own personal war on plastic.

“Do your research and know what you can recycle and what you can’t,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know what can and can’t go in the kerbside bins.

“It is all about building those habits and committing to doing the right thing.”

Click here to see how you can get involved in Plastic Free July.

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10 Responses to Kaitlyn Gillies rubbishes beliefs that you can’t be plastic-free
Elizabeth Ellender Elizabeth Ellender 10:33 pm 06 Jul 19

Bins beliefs?

Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 3:04 pm 06 Jul 19

Meat, green beans, grapes, cheese... Just some of the things I can think of that I buy regularly and will always come with (some) soft plastic.

    Kaitlyn Rose Gillies Kaitlyn Rose Gillies 4:42 pm 06 Jul 19

    Lin Van Oevelen it's hard to live a circular life in a linear world! You keep doing you, nobody is perfect :) 💕🌿

    Kaitlyn Rose Gillies Kaitlyn Rose Gillies 5:05 pm 06 Jul 19

    And if you go the the deli at Woolies or Coles and ask them to fill a container for you, they will say yes 50% of the time! Wish I had better solution for you, but it really depends on the employee serving you. Bring a metal tin as they are easier to sanitise!

    Madelaine Brosnan Madelaine Brosnan 7:11 pm 06 Jul 19

    Lin Van Oevelen Try reusable mesh bags for your fruit and veg.

    You‘ll have to avoid the big supermarkets though, in order to be able to get everything loose, rather than prepackaged.

    Anohs Llihpmeh Anohs Llihpmeh 6:41 am 07 Jul 19

    Any fruit & veg at all, I just put in my basket and pile on the scales then into straight into my bag.

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 8:06 am 07 Jul 19

    I haven't set foot in a supermarket in months. I get everything delivered.

    The thing that bothers me about articles like this is that it adds more pressure to women (who still do the majority of grocery shopping) and especially mothers.

    I give myself a mental high five if I manage to submit my grocery order before we run out of pet food (which also comes in soft plastic, btw). Let alone that I'd find the time and energy to go to several stores, with my clean containers, to try and find plastic free groceries.

    That's when pushing the responsibility solely to the consumer feeds into existing imbalances regarding work and mental load.

    I want companies to be forced to reduce plastic waste instead of relying on a minority of consumer's guilt about plastic pollution outweighing their need for convenience.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 8:31 am 07 Jul 19

    Green beans are usually sold loose in a box (at least in Coles...and many other outlets too). If they then have plastic it's because you put them in a plastic bag. I grow many of them myself, but when I buy them they are sold loose; they are weighed loose and they travel home in a cloth bag. No plastic used. Most of my grapes I grow myself, but when I buy them they usually come without plastic. I agree with the meat and cheese. That's hard to get without plastic, but some places likely would sell cheese without plastic, and I have bought meat in reused (washed) plastic bags I have handed to the butcher.

Richard Maddever Richard Maddever 2:45 pm 06 Jul 19

Kaitlyn Rose Gillies nice work!

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