Plastic Free July® is an annual month-long global movement that was started in Western Australia by the Plastic Free Foundation in 2011. Its founders believe small changes can add up to make a big difference.
Each July, individuals, families, school groups, and workplaces around the world take the challenge and pledge to reduce their consumption of single-use plastic products or to go completely plastic-free.
Since its inception, participants in Plastic Free July have reduced global demand for bottled water by 2.3%, fruit and vegetable packaging by 3.1%, and plastic straws by 4.0%. Those percentages may seem small, but that accounts for 2.1 billion tons of reduced waste and recycling!
Why is Plastic Free July Important?
Plastic pollution is a global problem, and Massachusetts is no exception. Litter is everywhere, and yet there is no comprehensive strategy dedicated to litter prevention in our state. But change can start with all of us if we make a concerted effort to change our habits. Starting a new habit can be difficult, but movements like Plastic Free July provide us with dedicated time, resources, and support to help make such change possible. In fact, the Plastic Free Foundation found that 86% of Plastic Free July participants made changes that turned into habits!
How To Do Your Part
The first step to taking part in Plastic Free July is to sign up for the challenge. You can sign up for as little as one day or as long as “from now on”—which should be everyone’s goal! By signing up, you will be joining millions of worldwide participants and will receive tips and information about the movement via email during each week of July.
After signing up, visit the getting started page, which helps identify changes you can make to reduce plastic in your life. This is a great page for both newcomers and veterans alike, as you can filter through several dozen categories to spark your plastic-free creativity.
Tips for a Successful Plastic-Free July
The goal of reducing plastic consumption is a marathon, not a sprint. While going 100% plastic-free would be incredible, it’s often an unreasonably high goal for someone just starting to make habitual changes. Before you make any changes, be realistic about your goals, so you can optimize your success and create habits that will stick.
Focus on a few areas that will be easy to commit to. Keep in mind that the top four most common plastic items are plastic bags, water bottles, coffee cups, and plastic straws. Focusing on these four items for the month is a great plan for any newcomer. If you find it hard to remember to bring your own reusable coffee mug when you grab your morning brew, consider purchasing a Rippl tumbler and downloading the Rippl mobile app. This app, created by a 24-year-old Rowley MA native, allows you to register your tumbler and redeem points at cafes you frequent, all in an effort to help you develop your habit and help our planet!
When attempting any new challenge, there will likely be times when you will slip up, make a mistake, or fall short of your goal. That’s okay! Don’t have an “all or nothing” mentality. Every change you make matters and will add up in the long run. A hiccup can be a lesson to learn from. Strategize and keep striving toward your challenge goal.
While you certainly can sign up for the challenge as an individual, having someone else participating with you can provide accountability and someone to brainstorm with. Plus, it makes it more fun. Turn to your community and get others to join you, whether that is a family member, your spouse, a friend, classmate, co-worker, or neighbor. Send them the sign-up link and maybe even have a friendly competition as to who can reduce the most plastic!
The Plastic Free Foundation has a fantastic resources page if you are feeling stuck or want to spread the word. There are alternative swap ideas, promotional assets, educational videos, and stories from other challenge participants to keep you motivated.
Feel free to post your progress in the Keep Massachusetts Beautiful Facebook group during Plastic Free July!