Plastic Free July returns for another year and to mark its 10-year anniversary, the campaign has set an even bigger target, challenging Australians to reduce single-use plastic pollution by one billion kilograms over the month.
The Plastic Free July challenge was designed to raise awareness of the impacts of disposable plastic and encourage people to take small, everyday actions and refuse single-use items such as produce wrapped in plastic, plastic straws, plastic bottles, coffee cups and plastic bags.
With plastic production projected to quadruple by 2050 and only 14% of plastic packaging recycled globally, the non-profit organisation is also hoping to kick-start long-term community, business and governmental solutions that will:
- improve recycling rates,
- extend producer responsibility,
- compel businesses to use recycled plastic packaging, and
- push for circular economy solutions such as recycling and reusing materials to limit the amount of waste ending in landfill.
From its humble beginnings as a Facebook group of 40 friends and colleagues working in local government in Western Australia, Plastic Free July has grown to become one of the most influential environmental campaigns in the world. In 2019, 250 million people signed up to the challenge and 825 million kilograms of plastic was avoided; each participant reduced household waste and recycling by an average of 23kgs.
However the pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works, leaving many to resort to single-use plastic takeaway items and other disposable sanitary products such as masks and disposable wipes. This has resulted in a renewed sense of urgency to return to the pre-coronavirus zero waste momentum.
“This year the challenge feels more poignant than ever as we begin to realise how intrinsically our social and physical environment is tied to the fundamental wellbeing of our communities,” founder of the Plastic Free July challenge Rebecca Prince-Ruiz said in a media release.
“We have also seen the power of collective action firsthand. Whilst Plastic Free July is a personal challenge, participants are part of a global effort to create cleaner streets, oceans, and a cleaner, healthier planet. We can all be part of the solution.”
The Plastic Free July Challenge focuses on waste avoidance as a fundamental solution to plastic pollution since reducing consumer demand for plastic is much simpler than the alternative: building more landfills, organising beach cleanups and collecting microplastic from oceans.
“Plastic Free July isn’t about drastic lifestyle change; it’s about being more conscious of the single-use plastics that you use day-to-day and taking small but smart steps to reduce them,” said Rebecca Prince-Ruiz
“Simple swaps could include switching to bar soap or avoiding plastic when you buy your vegetables. The majority of challenge participants started by choosing to refuse at least one single-use plastic but nine out of 10 ended up creating long-term habits that lasted far beyond the challenge itself.”
Last year, 87% of participants switched from plastic wrap to reusable food containers and 73% of participants refused take-away coffee cups. Of those signing up to take part in the month-long challenge, many continue their plastic reduction habits well beyond the month of July.
Keen to participate in the Plastic Free July challenge this year? Below are some useful articles to help you navigate your journey to a life with less plastic:
- 10 Ways to Avoid Single-Use Plastic When Out and About
- 20 Items That Should Be On Your Zero Waste List
- How to Transition to a Plastic-Free Lifestyle in Just 8 Simple Steps
- Where to Shop Online For Sustainable, Plastic-Free and Zero Waste Products in Australia
- Educational Docos and Short Films About Plastic Pollution and Living Plastic-Free
- 5 Reasons Why I Failed Plastic Free July
To sign up to Plastic Free July or to learn more, visit www.plasticfreejuly.org.