What is Plastic-Free July – 5 Easy Ways to Participate


Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. From humble beginnings in 2011, the award-winning Plastic Free July campaign is the result of years of hard work.

Plastic Free July participants:

  • reduce their household waste and recycling by 15kg per person per year (3.5% less waste)
  • globally they reduced 2.1 billion tonnes of waste and recycling including 300 million kgs of plastic consumption
  • 86% people made changes that have become habits
  • after 11 years Plastic Free July has reduced global demand by 2.3% of all bottled water, 3.1% of all fruit and vegetable packaging, 4.0% of all plastic straws

Global inspiration

This movement has inspired over 120 million participants in 177 countries. You making a small change will collectively make a huge difference to our communities. Best of all, being a part of Plastic Free July challenge will help you find great alternatives that can become new habits forever.

The concept

The concept is simple: Participants are challenged to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics by eliminating one or more single-use items from their daily lives. In an effort to stay healthy it can be tempting to assume that single-use plastics are more hygienic than their reusable counterparts. The fact is that reusable items — cups, bags, containers — pose no health risks. As long as you keep your reusable items clean, they are just as clean, if not cleaner, than single-use products.

Why July?

Why just July, you wonder? Shouldn’t we be reducing our dependence on plastic every month of the year? However, it became clear how effective the strategy was to focus on this brief time period. During the sunny summer month of July when we’re typically enjoying carefree days outdoors, relaxing at the beach, or taking a swim in the ocean, our appreciation of nature and the environment is at its peak. What better time to highlight the ever-increasing build-up of plastic waste that saturates our land and waters?

So this July, join millions of people around the globe in taking the Plastic Free Challenge: eliminate one or more single-use plastic items this month. And you’ll see how easy it is to make that change a lasting one! Here are some ways to make a change this Plastic Free July, and beyond.

Reuse for Good

In Europe, plastic straws are already forbidden. However, if they are still allowed where you live, just say “no, thanks”. It’s that simple! If you need or want a straw, there’s a reusable alternative to suit every need, including a foldable straw which you could fit in your bag or purse.

Why All the Fuss About Plastic Straws? How can something so small and insignificant be part of an environmental pollution crisis? It’s true that plastic straw pollution isn’t the main plastic waste culprit, but it’s a big one. The good news is that the solution to plastic straw pollution is one that you can be a part of. And the more of us who say no to plastic straws, the more impact we’ll have in influencing manufacturers to stop making these products.

For more background information on plastic straw pollution, read Green That Life’s post on the subject and watch the excellent STRAWS documentary film.

Shopping Bags = Tote bags

Make it a Plastic Free July by remembering to take your reusable shopping bag with you. A simple tote bag will serve you in many different ways – from groceries to carrying any kind of belongings. Use reusable produce bags for dried goods (rice, nuts) too. Invest in a few reusable produce bags so you don’t have to reach for the plastic ones in the store. And if you forgot them at home, no worries, just leave your items loose. Give the produce a thorough wash when you get home and you’re good to go.

What’s Wrong With Plastic Bags? Plastic bags are an enormous plastic waste problem. They’re made from non-renewable fossil fuels, are used for a few minutes, and then tossed in the garbage or left to litter our planet (virtually) forever. Can you recycle plastic bags? Technically, yes. Realistically, no. They need to be absolutely clean and can only be processed in recycling facilities that can handle their flimsy material. The market now for recyclable plastic bags is basically non-existent due to policy changes made in China, once this country’s main importer of plastic recyclables.

Reusable Mugs and Bottles

Don’t forget your reusable mug this Plastic Free July. This is an easy switch to make during Plastic Free July (and beyond) because there are countless varieties of reusable bottles and mugs to suit every situation and need. Bring a couple with you when you’re out so you don’t have to take a disposable coffee cup or buy bottled water.

Worried about the water quality coming from your faucets? Purchase a water filter pitcher or invest in a water filter faucet. You can also get filters that mount directly on top of the faucet.

Wrap it

Plastic packaging seems to magically wrap itself around everything. Somehow, we consumers have allowed ourselves to be duped into thinking that everything must be packaged. And, of course, with plastic packaging: plastic-wrapped cucumbers? Absolutely. Plastic containers of peeled oranges? Sure.

The insanity goes on and on, and we’ve come to accept it. Well, you don’t have to. You have the power to ignore these marketing disasters that create a false message of necessity.

Most of the time we don’t need all that packaging. Even more importantly, all this plastic packaging is made from non-renewable fuel sources. It’s used for a brief time before being thrown away or left to litter our planet.

So, instead of containing food in single-use wrapping, go for reusable alternatives during Plastic Free July.

Take Action

Start Something. Pick up plastic litter during Plastic Free July (or any month). Plastic Free July is a perfect time for you to think beyond your personal lifestyle habits and help inspire others to make a change with you. Consider starting a campaign to reduce single-use plastic in your neighborhood or even your town. You don’t have to venture far to make a positive impact.

We, as a brand, are on a mission to become fully recycled. The materials of our products, all the paper we use, greeting cards and gift cards are recycled. We believe, a little goes a long way. If we start with ourselves, we can inspire more and more people to do the same. Will you be a part of plastic free July? We hope, the answer is YES!