It all started ten years ago when Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, Founder and Executive Director of The Plastic Free July movement, became extremely concerned by the amount of plastics going into landfill.
Rebecca, already a Renewable Resources Consultant and Business Manager said that it wasn’t until an illuminating visit to a nearby recycling facility where household recycling was being sorted- that she began to feel overwhelmed.
“I had always felt like the good green citizen when I recycled but seeing the sheer volume of material and the complex and intense process to transport, sort and then again transport to the point of recycling (often in another state or overseas) made me suddenly question everything in my recycling bin and how I came to have it.” She further explained.”Having the “recycling symbol” on plastic packaging doesn’t mean that it will be recycled.”
The reality of our plastic problems sunk in hard. It was then at that moment that she challenged her family to go plastic-free for the entire month of July. What began as a personal challenge ten years ago has now bloomed into a global effort.
#plasticFREEjuly since its humble beginnings as a small dare to do better. Has steadily evolved into one of the largest global initiatives to reduce plastic waste, with an estimated 365 million people participating worldwide.
At first the simple "go-plastic-free" campaign was just supposed to be a central channel to share personal stories about how to reduce single use products around the home. Rebecca adds “We don’t have all the answers ourselves so we link to other websites and online resources around the world.”
During this time Rebecca also became a Waste Educator in her home state in Western Australia, and through this and her new network of sharing information, she inadvertently sparked a plastic free online movement and community that now spans around the globe. “It certainly isn’t easy but by joining our annual challenge you are not alone.” She adds. “Trying zero waste in an intentional way for a month, for a week or even just a day is a good way to help raise awareness and learn new habits.”
Last year's Plastic Free Foundation’s annual impact report, states that Plastic Free July participants have contributed to a total saving of 940 million kg of plastic waste each year. Furthermore 8.5 out of 10 participants went on to make simple daily swaps that have become habits and a new way of living. Amazingly, of those surveyed, said that they managed to reduce their household waste and recycling by 21kg per person per year. Incredible. Each year the numbers are growing. Rebecca adds that the work being done through the Plastic Free Foundation initiative also supports the United Nation's global Envison 2030: Sustainable Development goals 11,12, 13 and 14.
By joining the #plasticfreejuly global initiative, you will have access to additional support and you definitely won’t be alone. Rebecca has some suggestions on how to easily get started. First just have a look at what you commonly use and pick a few items you know you can avoid with relative ease.
You might already be using reusable products, but challenge yourself be more consistent. Like placing your grocery bags in visible places near your front door or in your car so you never forget them. If you do end up using something, don't give up trying. It's always better to focus on what you can avoid, not what you can’t. Rebecca encourages everyone “Don’t give up, it's a challenge, not a competition – once your eyes are opened you will start to realize it’s everywhere. And most of all – have fun, it’s a learning experience and there are so many good things in life that don’t come wrapped in plastic.”
She concludes “Be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.” As one past Plastic Free July challenger adds. “It gives you a sense of pride” when you complete your pledge.
So will you join Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single-use plastics? We sure hope so!
Sign up for the Plastic Free July challenge to refuse single use plastic at their website: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org
Even a day, a week or like the true eco champ you are- the entire month!
Don't forget, we’re behind you 100% every step of the way, on this plastic free journey!