Central Okanagan residents are invited to join the movement to eliminate single-use plastic this month.

Plastic Free July was started in Perth, Australia, in 2011, and has grown to more than 120 million participants worldwide. For the month of July, consumers are encouraged to cut out the “big four” single-use plastics: bags, coffee cups and lids, bottles and straws.

The average lifespan of single-use plastic is only 12 minutes from point of sale to when it reaches the garbage or recycling, but every piece of plastic ever made still exists today in one form or another.

Kirsty Symmons of Perth met Kirsten Bounds of Kelowna, and the two are teaming up to make the Valley more plastic-aware.

“I was in Australia a few years ago, and it was crazy to watch the sea just regurgitate waste and debris. It’s not nearly as evident in Kelowna as it is there,” said Bounds.

“Coming home, I started to change my habits and think about how I consume . . . I keep reusables (grocery bags, coffee cups and a water bottle) in my car or my backpack, and I think that if everyone tried to do that it would make a big difference.”

To date, Symmons and Bounds have established partnerships with 16 businesses, which are offering a discount to customers who bring in their own reusable vessel. In addition to the discount, customers can collect 10 stamps on a PFJ stamp card to redeem 10% off at Farm Bound Zero Waste.

Partnering businesses include Bean Scene, Publix Liquor, Salty Caramel Kitchen, Eat Clean Kelowna, Bliss Bakery, Oranj Fitness, Ambience Cafe, Bulk Barn Kelowna, Naked Cafe, Pulp Fiction Coffee House, Sprout Bread, Farm Bound Zero Waste, We Clean Earth Store, Miiko Skinco, the Market Bags, and Bee Moore Kind.

“Hopefully we can reach some people who don’t realize how much they consume, or who don’t know where to start when it comes to reducing their waste,” said Bounds. “We want to make it as accessible as possible.”

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