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The Plastic Free July movement is a global initiative which aims to encourage people to be a part of the plastics solution by going waste-free and reducing use plastics.

Sustainable Fashion, Stylist Alex van Os of Op Shop to Runway, joins us to deep dive into the global plastics problem and her tips for how to live more sustainably, Plastic Free July and beyond! Follow this link to discover more of her work and the ‘No New Clothes 2020’ challenge. That’s right – no new clothes, shoes or accessories for one year! Alex is a passionate environmentalist and stylist in fashion and television. We’re so excited to have her on board sharing her #PlasticFreeJuly tips!

Plastic in many forms can be found in every corner of our planet, including our homes, food chain, oceans, the stomachs of wildlife, on the shorelines of deserted beaches and also our in our clothes! Polyester, Nylon, Acrylic and Elastane are all synthetic fibres made from plastic. Some synthetic fibres in clothing are completely unavoidable – they can have great properties and practical uses like when used in our swimwear, underwear and gym clothes, however they are a disaster when it comes to washing! Just one synthetic garment can shed over 1,900 fibres per wash and a single washing machine load can release over 700, 000 fibres!!! These tiny particles are known as mircofibres or microplastics. A shocking 34.8% of microplastics in our oceans come from clothing fibres.

These statistics are distressing and we need to act now to stop plastic in all forms from filling up our landfill and entering our oceans and food chains.

A few practical ways in which you can to reduce your impact and tackle this issue:

WASH LESS: The current norm is to wear our clothes once and then throw them in the washing machine, but are our clothes actually dirty? Often our clothes can be worn multiple times before they actually need to be cleaned by our machines. Try hand washing or when you do need to use a machine make sure it’s a full load, on cold and for 30 minutes as this sheds fewer microfibres.

SUN AND AIR: To dry and freshen up my clothes I like to hang them in the sun (inside out) and let them air out. I find it helps to remove any light odours and the sun can make the appearance of stains lighter. Particularly in winter I like to do this to my wool blazers and jackets as I wear them often and it stops me from having to get them dry cleaned (another harmful cleaning process).

SPOT CLEAN: Tend to new stains as soon as you can and that way you will have more luck in removing them from the fabric. Often though, stains or marks may only need a wipe or clean with a cloth, warm soapy water and if really stubborn, elbow grease!

VODKA: In the television, theatre and live performance industry actors or performers often have to rewear their clothes or costumes that they wore the previous day. As time frames are often very tight and there is not enough turn-around time to wash and dry their clothes, we will spray them with a concoction of vodka and water! This helps to kill bacteria and smells, and freshens up their clothes over night! Industry tip from me to you!

STEAMING: I have a small hand held steamer in my room, and this works wonders to make the appearance of clothes look clean and fresh, and therefore reduces the need for frequent washing.

I had the pleasure of being part of Mighty Good’s Bare for Good campaign in 2017. This is me in my favourite vintage top (a little outrageous I know). The Bare for Good campaign spotlights changemakers doing good things and I was so excited to be a part of it. I was in the company of some incredible people (follow this link to find out more). One of the reasons I took part is because I love that Mighty Good are unwavering about using GOTS certified organic cotton in their underwear!

It has taken me many years to refine and reduce my plastic consumption (I am definitely not perfect!) from what originally started with swapping out single-use shopping bags to now always carrying a spare fabric tote with me. Since my initial plastic-free, reusable swap I also have a ‘zero-waste’ kit in my bag which holds a metal straw, metal cutlery, mesh bags for fruit and vege and of course my stainless steel water bottle and coffee keep cup.

Once I felt I had mastered these everyday alternatives and they felt like second nature, I began to reflect across all areas in my life. This includes (just to name a few) buying plastic free toilet paper in bulk from Who Gives a Crap using soap blocks for my body wash, face and hair from Ethique World to save on plastic bottles, preferring naked fruit and vegetables from the farmers market or supermarket, using bamboo toothbrushes which will decompose at its end of life and to composting my fruit and vege scraps in my worm farm which subsequently elevates the need for bin liners.

No matter where you are on your plastic free journey to reducing your over all plastic consumption, I believe there is always room to improve and do better! Sometimes it’s not always possible but if the intention is there and REFUSING is your first port of call then you are truly part of the solution!