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July 4, 2019

Plastic Free July: The campaign to eradicate single-use plastic

Plastic Free July is a worldwide campaign led by independent, not-for-profit organisation the Plastic Free Foundation, which aims to reduce single-use plastic waste throughout our everyday lives by providing easy-to-follow resources and ideas.

By Deborah Williams

Why is single-use plastic a problem?

Plastic pollution is a worldwide issue, with single-use plastics at the forefront. Single-use plastics are a problem due to their mass consumption, incorrect disposal and long lifecycle – ushered by the global disposables culture.

From supermarkets, such as Morrisons replacing its plastic bags with paper alternatives to major UK festivals, such as Glastonbury banning the sale of plastic bottles and others trialling plastic bottle deposit return schemes, tackling plastic pollution is a priority for all.

With much single-use plastic either ending up in landfills or polluting the oceans, Plastic Free Foundation said its ultimate vision is to see a world without plastic waste. And this is a concept that Plastic Free July can help with.

Plastic Free July challenge founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz said: “The growing movement of people refusing single-use plastic sends a signal to business and government that expectations are changing. Every person has the power to influence their environment and Plastic Free July has been critical in empowering people to connect their purchase choices to the plastic pollution problem – in other words ‘turning off the tap.’

“One change can go a long way. The Plastic Free July challenge has encouraged millions of people to take small, daily actions and create long-lasting habits that minimise single-use plastic. In doing so, we can stem the flow of plastic waste into the oceans by taking positive actions upstream on land and in our homes.”

Getting involved in Plastic Free July

So far the campaign has produced over 120 million participants in 177 countries, with the foundation providing a number of solutions participants can follow in order to become plastic free.

Some of these suggestions include encouraging customers to bring a reusable coffee cup or dine-in at their local café, buy loose fruit and vegetables, use their own reusable shopping bags, refuse plastic straws or bring their own reusable alternative, monitor recycling and composting or avoiding waste completely.

Creating new solutions to bin liners, such as using newspaper or certified compostable alternatives, can also be a solution in clearing up landfill waste. Replacing cling film with alternatives, such as wax wraps or reusable washable cloth bags and finding creative ways to share plastic free plans through social events, such as a picnic, can help challenge a community in its consumption of pre-packaged foods.

Other ways participants can get involved is through the ‘Find your Tribe’ initiative. This involves participants joining or creating a group of like-minded individuals during Plastic Free July to encourage each other in their efforts.

To find out more, participants can visit the Plastic Free July website and take the Pesky Plastics Quiz to help the Plastic Free Foundation track plastic trends, discover the sneaky plastics that creep into their shopping and set up their Plastic Free July to be a success.

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