Plastic Free July
Last Updated on October 2, 2022 by Carolyn
How did Plastic Free July Come to Be?
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here. Investment advice published here is of a general nature only as disclosed here.
Plastic Free July is the brainchild of Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, author of, you guessed it, “Plastic Free”. Rebecca and her Australian not-for-profit organization, The Plastic Free Foundation started the movement in 2011 to raise awareness of our growing plastic waste problem and to reduce single-use plastic consumption. And what a success this movement has been.
Why Plastic Free July
Summer is all about getting outside and enjoying ourselves in the company of friends. But have you noticed just how much single-use plastic there is at most of these get-togethers? Plastic forks, plastic cups, plastic plates, plastic straws, plastic tablecloths, and of course plastic water bottles and even the bags we throw all of this waste into are more single-use plastic. So what better month for a plastic-free movement.
Why Should I Concern Myself With This?
You might think, I’m busy I don’t have time to worry about yet another cause. But are you aware of the following:
- Every piece of plastic that’s ever been created still exists in our world. Single-use plastic is manufactured to last forever but is used only for one time, often for only minutes.
- 79% of single-use plastics has accumulated in landfill and the natural environment, with only 9% having been recycled, that’s billions of tons of plastic waste (the balance has been incinerated).
- 8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans each year and if we continue at this rate by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
- Toxic chemicals are present in single-use packaging and enter the food they contain. Microplastics are in our food and water.
This is only a short excerpt from the many atrocities single-use plastics have created.
Now if this doesn’t make you think twice what will?
This is a problem we can solve.
The solutions to minimizing and ultimately eliminating this environmental catastrophe are not difficult to implement:
- Reuse and recycle: Give second lives to plastic, encourage businesses to use recycled plastic rather than using the earth’s resources to create more plastic;
- Circulate: Encourage businesses to be responsible and take responsibility for their waste, provide means to reuse packaging, rather than create more;
- Eliminate: Have you ever seen an apple or an orange wrapped in plastic? Enough said. What about plastic grocery bags? What a horrendous invention. How many of us can say we’ve never had a plastic bag rip and spill our groceries as we’re carrying them into the house? You know what? You can prevent this by using a well-made fabric bag. This is one of those changes you can make that will improve your mental well-being as well as mother earths. A win-win. And a nice organic shopping bag is WAY more stylish than a plastic bag.
Plastic Free July Impact
A 2021 survey estimated that over 140 million people from 190 countries all around the world participated in the 2021 Plastic Free July movement, collectively refusing to use 301 million everyday plastic items and reducing plastic waste by a whopping 2.1 million tons!
How to Participate
There are many ways to participate in Plastic Free July. You can officially take part in the plastic-free challenge, register for the Official Plastic Free Challenge or you can choose to participate in your own way. You might opt to avoid using takeaway coffee cups by bringing your own, perhaps you’ll reduce single-use plastic at your family picnic, and bring real cutlery and reusable plates, or perhaps you’ll by at your produce at your local farmer’s stand, bring your own bag and fill it, without plastic. Plasticfreejuly.org has many ideas to reduce plastic waste if none of these strike your fancy.
Take the Pesky Plastics Quiz
Help the founders of Plastic Free July track common plastics that households use, discover for yourself all the plastics that “sneak” into your shopping and set yourself up for Plastic Free July success.
It’s Almost August, Is it too Late to Participate?
It’s never too late to participate in reducing single-use plastic consumption. You can sign up to participate at Plasticfree.org for a day, a month, or forever. And of course, you don’t have to sign-up anywhere. you can continue to choose to implement your own interpretation of plastic free.
But I’m Not Ready to Go Totally Plastic Free!
Don’t worry, you don’t have to go 100% plastic-free. The idea is to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics. Think about it. If all 140 million participants in Plastic Free July each reduced their consumption of plastic by just one item during the month, that would be 140 million items of plastic. If each participant reduced consumption by just 2 items, it would be 280 million items. No step is too small or too insignificant, don’t you want to be one of those 140 million people helping the planet?
Here’s a list of super simple changes you can make, and every single one of them has a positive impact:
- When you order a glass of water or drink at a restaurant, say “No straw please”;
- Express your style, bring your own shopping bags when grocery shopping with something like these organic cotton bags from Etsy:
- Use a refillable water bottle and or coffee mug. I can heartily recommend buying a “Swell Bottle“. No more warm water out of these babies, just cool thirst-quenching water.
Simple steps that if we all follow WILL help immensely.
It’s always nice to support corporations that implement sustainability programs. I was thrilled to see that King Soopers and Kroger have initiated a recycling program with Terracycle, the company I mentioned in my earlier post on sustainable investing.
Did you know that Kroger has committed to eliminating single-use plastic grocery bags in all of their stores by 2025?
Or that via their plastic bag and packaging drop-off bins have recycled more than 180 million pounds of plastic into composite decking?
And that via their new “Be a Zero Hero” partnership with Terracycle you’re plastic food packaging will become new recycled products such as park benches and playgrounds?
I don’t know about you but this excites me!
How to Become a Zero Hero
Becoming a “Zero Hero” is simple and FREE. Why wouldn’t you join?
How to be a Zero Hero: in 4 Simple Steps:
- Join the program by signing up with TerraCycle: Sign up Here
- Collect Kroger brand flexible plastic packaging (including Simple Truth, Private Selection, Pet Pride, Luvsome and Abound labels)
- When your box is full sign into your TerraCycle account and print a free shipping label
- Ship your box to TerraCycle and let them recycle the contents.
And as an added bonus you can collect Terracycle points and use them to fund recycling rewards a sampling of which are:
- Planting trees
- Adopt an acre of wildlife land
- Provide a blind child with braille paper
- Provide a meal to an American facing hunger
Again at no cost to you!
Take Action Now
It’s so easy to go about our lives and put our heads in the sand like ostriches. Ignoring the growing problem of single-use plastic is easier than grabbing it by its horns. But is this the right thing to do?
We need to open our eyes to what is going on in the world around us and take action to improve our world not destroy it. Nobody wants to leave a world full of trash to their posterity, do they?
Some of us may venture further down the path to mending our ways like this young lady from Santa Barbara California who did her own plastic audit: Arianna’s Path to Plastic Reduction. For a week she studied where here plastic waste comes from so she could strategize on how best to reduce it.
Others amongst us will participate in highway cleanup picking up trash before it becomes part of our environment or assist in a beach clean-up while vacationing.
Or perhaps you’ll commit to prioritizing purchasing your products from companies that manufacture products from ocean plastics. There are many, a few of the more well known ones are:
- Girlfriend collective
Whatever little measure you do it’s a start. If we spread the word and increase awareness we can stop single-use plastic in its tracks.
“We can’t all do everything, but we can all do something”
What measure will you be taking?
I love how there’s a whole month dedicated to reducing plastic consumption! The kids and I picked up rubbish at the local park recently and there was allsorts but mostly plastic.
Kudos to you and your kids for helping clean your park. It’s amazing just how much plastic trash there is, and how easily we could replace it with just a little forethought.
Great read! Love the quote, “we can’t all do everything, but we can all do something.”
Glad you liked the post. So many people think a little is not enough…so don’t do anything!
Thanks for the tips. It sounds like a great idea.
The growth of the movement is inspiring.
Love this post! I do my best to reduce my plastic, but I can definitely do better. I had no idea you could put other plastic film and packaging in the instore recycling bin. I will definitely start to utilize that more often. Thanks so much for sharing!