Want to do your part to reduce plastic waste? Check out the Plastic Free July Initiative!
The globe is in the midst of a plastic crisis. Every single year, people around the world produce 300 million tons of plastic waste. What’s worse, about 75% of all the plastic that has ever been produced - all the way back to the 1930s - is now in a landfill or littering our environment, and it won’t decompose for another thousand years. It’s scary to think about, but there are ways to make a difference. The Plastic Free July event by the Plastic Free Foundation is just one of those awesome opportunities.
What is Plastic Free July?
While it’s true that you can’t save the world all by yourself, if we all come together, we can make things better for the generations after us. Plastic Free July is an event that’s intended to help bring awareness to the plastic pollution crisis and show people that they can make a difference when they work together. The main event is the Plastic Free July Challenge in which people all over the world refuse to accept or use single-use plastics for the entire month of July.
This annual event is just one part of an ongoing effort to clean up the environment. Throughout the year, you can visit the foundation’s website to learn more about current plastic-related issues around the globe, find some other fun challenges and ways to get involved, and even find out how to host a public event of your own.
Does Plastic Free July Make a Difference?
The Plastic Free Foundation has published an Impact Report for every single year they’ve hosted the Plastic Free July event. Each year, the support grows stronger, and more people participate. During the 2021 challenge, there were more than 140 million participants! Together, they refused 301 million everyday items made from plastic and prevented a whopping 2.1 million tons of plastic waste from finding its way into landfills. That’s quite an accomplishment, and it all starts with people just like you. Be sure to check the foundation’s website later in the year to see the results of their 2022 Plastic Free July challenge!
Tips for Reducing Your Dependence on Plastic
You use plastic every single day and in every part of your life. From the life-saving equipment in hospitals to the shoes on your feet, plastic makes your life simpler, more convenient, and safer. The problem is that there is far too much plastic. There’s too much being produced, too much in landfills, and too much littering the roadways, rivers, and oceans. If you want to do your part to help reduce plastic pollution, you can:
- Refuse single-use plastics all year. Carry a reusable straw with you, take your own reusable bags to the grocery store, and pay close attention to the packaging associated with the products you buy. Look for packaging that’s recyclable, reusable, or even compostable.
- Reuse and recycle what you can. Before tossing plastic into the trash, ask yourself if you can repurpose or recycle it. If you’re unsure about what you can recycle, contact your local recycling facility and ask them which types of plastics they accept. Then, check your items for stamped numbers inside of the iconic three-arrow triangle recycling icon. (Tip: it’s often on the bottom of plastic containers!) As long as the number matches one of the plastic types your local facility accepts, you can recycle it. Many cities even offer curbside recycling pickup!
- Buy products made from recycled plastic instead of new plastic. You can’t avoid plastic altogether, but buying products made from recycled plastic is a great way to show that you care about the environment. When we stop buying items made with new plastic and start demanding more items made from recycled plastic, companies will be forced to listen. After all, brands don’t want their product sitting on store shelves; they want people to buy them. If the people demand recycled plastic, the companies will provide items made with recycled plastic. Our wallets are one of the most important tools we have in the fight against plastic, so we have to use them wisely by buying eco-friendly items whenever we can.
- Join a community that cares. If the thought of reducing plastic in your life seems overwhelming, there’s power in joining a community filled with like-minded people. The Plastic Pollution Coalition is a great place to start, but be sure to search your local area for other communities and groups. You can often find them on Facebook or Reddit; many even meet in person regularly for discussions, clean-up activities, town hall meetings, and more.
You can’t fix the plastic crisis on your own, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from making an effort. When people come together, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish. If you want to do more but you aren’t sure where to start, you can donate to the Plastic Free Foundation to help them reach more people in more places, or you can check out other organizations like Plastic Oceans™, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), and Greenpeace.