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Five Ways to Honor Plastic Free July for Beginners

plastic free july

Plastic Free July, the global movement to help reduce our dependence on single-use plastic, started in 2011 by Plastic Free Foundation. This July, more than 300 million people from around the world are sharing stories, tips and creative ideas to support the growing movement. Here are a few of our favorite ways to honor Plastic Free July.

plastic free july quote

1. Learn where plastic is hiding

Preventing plastic pollution is easier when we have a better understanding of where plastic is hiding. Read about everyday items that contain plastic, including your favorite clothing, takeaway coffee cup, and everyday face wash. Learn how plastic could be migrating into your food from single-use food wrappers and containers, and why you should steer clear of disposable food packaging. Microplastics have been found all over the world, from snow samples in Antarctica to the deepest point in our ocean. As you can see, plastic is everywhere, so learning how to find it is key to preventing it in the first place.

2. Support initiatives to reduce plastic pollution

A staggering 1 trillion disposable food service products are used every year in the U.S. The environmental impact is immense, and disposable foodware can also contain some pretty questionable chemicals. Join Plastic Pollution Coalition members and partners in calling on restaurants, coffee shops and festivals to Reopen with Reuse—a safer, more eco-friendly way to reopen. Add your name to the petition so we can get going!

Our National Parks are burdened by an increasing amount of plastic waste. The more than 300 million visitors leave about 70 million pound of waste behind every year. Add your name to the petition urging Secretary Haaland to ban the sale of single-use plastic bottles and provide refill stations at all National Parks. Support the initiative by bringing your own stainless steel drinkware everywhere you go so you don’t have to rely on single-use plastic.

3. Catch up on recent plastic pollution news

A recent comprehensive study found that just 10 plastic products—including bags, bottles, food containers and cutlery—make up 75% of the trash in our oceans. Scientists are saying that the pollution must be stopped at the source, and recommend banning these common throwaway items. “What’s going on in the sea is a symptom of the problem—the origin of the problem and the solution are back on land and that’s where we’ve got to take action.”

New Zealand will phase out many single-use plastics between 2022 and 2025 in an effort to reduce waste and fight climate change. New South Wales and Western Australia both also recently announced bans on single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws and takeout coffee cups by the end of 2022.

4. Stop ‘wishcycling’

We’ve all been there. We toss something in the recycling bin with the best intentions, essentially crossing our fingers that the item will get recycled into something useful. After all, everything has a recycling symbol on it these days, so why not try? Unfortunately, wishcycling—tossing that disposable plastic clamshell, straw or utensil into the recycling—can contaminate the recycled content and can be a real hassle for waste management systems. This Plastic Free July, stop wishcycling and commit to the best and easiest solution: refuse and reuse.

5. Change one habit, and stick to it

To honor Plastic Free July, commit to making a change, and keep that commitment every day. Increased awareness is helping the movement gain momentum, making it easier to find plastic-free solutions. Start small: stop buying plastic wrap, give up Ziploc baggies, bring reusable containers to the market for refill, carry a reusable utensil or bottle. Swap out old plastic containers that degrade after prolonged use, and replace them with safer stainless steel. Switching out your plastic food storage and drinkware can take time, and if you’re still using plastic during your transition, check your plastic numbers to minimize your exposure to toxins. The key is to keep this small change going every day, and over time you’ll see the impact add up.