International Movement Seeks to Combat Plastic Pollution
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, single-use plastics are the largest subset of plastics found in landfills and are among the most challenging to recycle. Plastic production accounts for more than 3% of total U.S. energy consumption and uses roughly the same amount of oil around the world as does the aviation industry. Yet, less than 10% of plastics are currently recycled, and most of those plastics are “downcycled,” or repurposed into low-value products.
Plastic Free July® is a global movement that uses the month of July to annually help millions of people take an active role in solving the problem of plastic pollution, with a special focus on eliminating single-use plastics.
A key initiative of the Plastic Free Foundation, the event began in 2011 by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz in Western Australia. According to the Plastic Free July website, a 2021 IPSOS survey estimated that 140 million people from 190 countries took part in the award-winning campaign.
As a result of Plastic Free July, participants have reduced their waste yearly by 3.5% and 86% have made permanent positive changes in their habits and lifestyle regarding plastic waste.
“Ending plastic pollution has never been more of a focus,” said Prince-Ruiz, now the foundation’s executive director. “By focusing on avoidance, Plastic Free July offers everyone, wherever they live, a way to make a difference and stop plastic pollution from leaking into the environment and impacting communities. Together, we have already avoided 2.1 million tons of plastic waste, including millions of single-use drink bottles, coffee cups, packaging, straws, and plastic bags.”
As part of their 2022 challenge, Plastic Free July has launched new resources for individuals, schools, and businesses. These include a free school program to help school staff and facilitators get involved, and a corporate membership that, for a nominal fee, helps businesses fully participate through provided tools.
For more information about Plastic Free July and the Plastic Free Foundation, visit www.plasticfreejuly.org.