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Why should you go vegetarian this Plastic Free July?

The Plastic Free July challenge is becoming very popular worldwide. It aims to raise awareness of the amount of single-use plastic in our lives, and it challenges people to do something about it. Numerous ideas are offered on where to start – from refusing plastic straws and takeaway cups, to using alternative bin liners. All of these actions should be encouraged and applauded.

However, those who are serious about reducing their plastic waste should consider not only skipping the takeaway containers, but the sushi* too.

A comprehensive study led by the Ocean Cleanup team of scientists found that fishing nets account for 46% of ocean trash, with the majority of the rest composed of other fishing industry gear – not the plastic bags and bottles that are often blamed.

Worse yet, the discarded fishing gear not only contaminates the oceans, but is a danger to marine habitats and animals. Ghost nets are killing hundreds of thousands of marine animals every year, including sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins, whales, and birds. This is all driven by the commercial fishing industry and demand for seafood.

While fish is touted as an omega-3 source, getting these essential fatty acids from plant-based sources (such as flax or chia seeds and walnuts) not only helps to reduce your plastic waste, but is kinder to animals and healthier as well. If you need help with getting started on your fish-free journey, you can contact the NZ Vegetarian Society.

The NZ Vegetarian Society invites students (years 0-13) to enter our annual Think Kind competition with a Plastic-Free theme. Show us how reducing plastic waste is kind to animals. There are endless possibilities for projects – from writing an informative essay or short story, drawing or designing a poster, or making a creative video, to starting a local beach clean-up. Be creative – carry out your project then enter online by 12th August. Every student will receive a prize and a certificate.

The overall winner will be determined by a people’s choice vote, and will be announced on 1 October, World Vegetarian Day.

The entry that wins the People’s Choice Award will receive $1,000 for their school.

For more information, go to www.vegetarian.org.nz

*Just kidding about giving up sushi. Don’t do that. Sushi is awesome! Just make sure you order the veggie version.