Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July is a global initiative to raise awareness of plastic waste and the effect it has on the environment. The annual challenge is taken up by millions of everyday people who want to make a difference. 

Just 40 people did the first plastic challenge in 2011. By 2021 an incredible 140 million people took part. People in 190 countries saved an average 15kg of waste and litter, adding up to 2.1 million tonnes of waste or 301 million everyday plastic items. 

How to take part in Plastic Free July

Sign up on the Plastic Free July website to take the challenge. To sign up for the challenge, just enter your contact information and then set yourself a target to avoid single-use plastic packaging, target takeaway items or go completely “plastic free” for the month. By signing up, you get access to a plastic free choices calendar with action points for every day of July. 

There is a Pesky Plastics Quiz that can help you to identify what plastics you can change during the month-long challenge. It is in the form of a questionnaire asking you to specify what you do now that uses plastic, together with collecting some demographic information. The questions are a good prompt for ways to get started; from using reusable shopping bags to taking a reusable coffee cup to the cafe. 

Businesses and schools can also take part in Plastic Free July. Here are some great examples of organisations that have taken part in the Plastic Free July challenge. They will give you ideas for how you can make the challenge a part of your work life as well as home life: 

  • A bar in Greece switched to paper straws
  • A supermarket in New Zealand switched to reusable shopping bags
  • A business in Australia changed to edible and compostable coffee cups
  • Cafes in Tasmania invested in a milk keg to sell milk in glass bottles to customers
  • A consultancy business in Spain held a plastic free morning coffee with reusable mugs
  • A school in Scotland cleaned up their local beach
  • A school in Wales made beeswax wraps to wrap their lunches in
  • A kindergarten in New Zealand switched from plastic toys to natural materials

You can make Plastic Free July a community event too. The website has Plastic Free July events on a world map if you are looking to participate or add your event. An example here is a Japanese library that translated educational materials into Japanese and held beeswax wrap workshops. 

More ways to go plastic free

The wellbeing section in the Blue Patch Directory can help you find plastic free alternatives to your daily household items. Choose from plastic free hair and beauty products, menstrual products, household cleaning products or use this challenge as an impetus to change your shopping habits & visit a refill shop like the Jarr Market for the first time. 

Plastic Free July is the perfect opportunity to think about how we use plastics in our everyday lives and how we can make changes. By the end of the month, you might have formed new habits as a family that you can continue after the challenge has ended. 

Annette Clubley

Annette is a keen wildlife conservationist, mindful of sustainability and our impact on the environment. Outside of work, family is her focus and she loves teaching the next generation to enjoy the outdoors.