Plastic free July is a global challenge, celebrated all over the world with the aim to reduce personal consumption of single-use plastic, so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.
Plastic is derived from fossil fuels, making the material a non-renewable and unsustainable resource. It is either downcycled into new plastic or it sits in landfill emitting methane, or the sun breaks it down into microplastics.
In fact, all the plastic that has come into existence over the past century is still on Earth.
Plastic has only been in use since 1907 and it has become the preferred material for just about everything, from bags to straws to food packaging to water bottles to wipes to dippers.
Before the plastic boom in the 1960s people got along simply fine without single-use plastic. Plastic reduction in a disposable world can be seen like a daunting task but we can try it in 2021, too.
When did plastic free movement start?
This challenge started as a humble office initiative in 2011 in Perth, Australia by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz.
Rebecca started working in waste education for a local county in Perth, Western Australia and visited a recycling facility, where she saw a mountain of waste that one single suburb had thrown away. The enormity of it, shocked her so much, that she was concerned and thought “I have to do something about it”.
So, she said to her colleges I am going single-use plastic free next month- who wants to join me? So, 2 colleagues and 35 volunteers decided to give it a try.
Those 37 people in 2011 grew to 400 the following year and 4,000 in 2013 and so on until in 2017 an estimated 2 million people from 159 countries participated. It has grown by word of mouth as people with shared concerns join them. People participating in the challenge talked to friends and family, colleagues at work, school, and out in the community and shared their journey online and in social media.
Since 2011 to date, the Plastic Free July campaign has grown so much, that today is an independent not-for-profit Foundation and registered charity called “The Plastic Free July Foundation”, which main purpose is to raise awareness of the issue by supporting behaviour change to help people avoid single-use plastic. Their scale is wide-ranging, and engages community groups, businesses, schools, and other organizations.
Where is the plastic free movement today?
These days the plastic free movement has spread all over the world and have gained traction from large corporations as well. Other sectors including restaurants, pubs and fast-food chains have jumped back on the plastic train too, serving in takeaway cups, in a takeaway capacity or not.
Some initiatives like the plastic bag 5p levy introduced in England in 2015 have helped to reduce the use of disposable bags by 95%. Since May/21 the cost of a single-use plastic carrier bag in English shops has gone up from 5p to 10p.
According to BBC news, the average person in England now buys just four single-use carrier bags a year from the main supermarkets, compared with 140 in 2014.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and disposable plastic face masks has been unavoidable. They pose a huge environmental risk –, especially masks as there are not official guidance on mask recycling, meaning that a phenomenal amount will end up polluting our environment.
Commitments to tackle plastic waste have seemingly been put on hold and plastic bag bans have been reversed or delayed in some countries owing to hygiene fears.
If you want to make your little contribution to this noble cause is simpler than it seems: leave plastic out of your shopping trolley and consider other alternatives, buy loose fruit and vegetables from supermarkets, and buy in bulk if you can.
We offer plastic free gluten free pasta in bulk presentations to make our little contribution to the environment.