Let’s talk about Plastic Free July. What is it, and how can you get involved? This global event is a wonderful way to get engaged with the sustainability community, cut single-use plastic out of your life, and challenge yourself to create more mindful habits. Let’s explore what Plastic Free July is, how it started, and what you can do to play your part!
What is the problem?
The production of plastic, made from the non-renewable resource petroleum, began in 1907. While at the time, it created convenience and was a major solution to households globally, over the last 100 years, plastic has become ubiquitous – and has led to a variety of problems. Plastic is made from fossil fuels and is not biodegradable at the end of its life… meaning that all plastic produced still exists somewhere on Earth. According to The Nature Conservatory, about 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year – most of which will not be recycled. Think of it as 21 million school buses of plastic! Most of that plastic either ends up in our landfills, where it will sit for hundreds of years, some gets recycled, and much of it ends up in our oceans and waterways. 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean, affecting about 530 marine species. Of the 300 million tons, 50% of the plastic that is produced is discarded after a single use. But… there is hope! Events like Plastic Free July mobilize people across the globe to learn more about plastic pollution and make changes in their own lives around plastic.
What is Plastic Free July?
Founded in 2011 by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, the founder of The Plastic Free Foundation, Plastic Free July is a global movement inspiring individuals to take action in the fight against plastic pollution. To date, it has inspired an estimated 326 million participants in 177 countries! The goal of the movement is simple: educate your community on the plastic pollution crisis, and use July as a month to challenge yourself to make your life more sustainable. Whether that means switching to reusable straws, recommitting to recycling, or shopping in bulk at the grocery store with your own containers! Plastic Free July is all about finding what works for you and your lifestyle.
How can I get involved?
Getting involved is easy! You can take the formal Plastic Free July challenge here, and take a pledge to eliminate single-use plastics for a day, a week, a month, or even a year! You can also opt for weekly emails that highlight other participants – and their tips and tricks that help them stay motivated throughout the challenge.
Beyond the formal Plastic Free July challenge, tune in to our social media and the social media accounts of key voices in the sustainability movement! Plastic Free July leads to a ton of knowledge sharing, and the sustainability community is here to help you on your plastic-free journey.
Removing single-use plastics from your life is easier than you think. We suggest starting simply with things you use every day, whether that be plastic water bottles, single-use coffee cups, plastic straws, you name it! Once you have the basics covered, start finding tougher changes to implement in your life. When you go shopping, bring reusable bags and try to buy items in bulk with your own containers! When going out to eat, bring reusable containers for leftovers! Getting coffee? Bring a mug or cup from home, as well as metal straws! Remember, each little contribution adds up!
Where do I start?
Once you’ve identified where you need to make changes in your life to reduce plastic, EarthHero can help you implement those changes! Our curated collection of Plastic Alternatives has hundreds of reusable, plastic-free, and zero-waste products that you can utilize to replace plastic products. Plus, we ship our packages plastic-free…. aka no styrofoam packaging peanuts.
From books like 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste, to starter kits like our Zero Waste Dishwashing Kit, to the info on the EarthHero blog, we are dedicated to helping you along your sustainability journey. Plastic Free July is only a month-long challenge, but we encourage you to take the skills and tools you learn this month and apply it all year.
Take it a step further and get involved with your community! Volunteer in your community to clean up beaches, roads, forests, and parks. Share information about Plastic Free July with friends and family to help them make their lives more sustainable.
How will you get involved this month? Let us know in the comments below!
This blog was originally published in 2021 and was edited in June 2023.