Today is Independence Day in the United States. In Australia and growing numbers of countries around the world, the entire month is Plastic-Free July, so let’s celebrate our independence from single-use disposable plastics!
What you can do
- Register to participate on the Plastic-Free July Web Site (I know, it’s already July 4. So what? Better late than never.)
- Try to eliminate disposable plastics during the entire month of July, and hold onto the things you couldn’t avoid in your “Dilemma Bag.” You’ll be getting updates and tips during the month.
- Follow Plastic-Free July on Facebook.
- For more inspiration from other plastic-free activists, check out the On Air Google Hangout panel discussion, which we called The Plastic-Free July International Help Desk, including me, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz (Western Australia) of Western Earth Carers, Danielle Richardet (Wilmington, NC, USA) from It Starts with Me, Tim Silverwood (New South Wales, AU) from Take 3, Taina Uitto (British Columbia, CA) from Plastic Manners, Merren Tait (Raglan, NZ) from A Year Without Buying Plastic, and Paul Sharp (Perth, AU) from the Two Hands Project.
- Take a minute to share this short, 2-minute promo.
What is Plastic-Free July and How Did It Get Started?
A few minutes ago, I had a little Google Hangout chat with Rebecca Prince-Ruiz of Western Earth Carers in Western Australia (technology makes this world smaller and smaller!) to ask about how and why she started Plastic-Free July.
While those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are dealing with the heat of summer, folks in Australia are donning their winter garb. Anyway, Rebecca said that two years ago, she heard about a local person who was attempting to go plastic-free for a month. Rebecca had recently visited a recycling facility and seen the sheer volume of plastic waste we produce and must deal with every day. Until then, plastic recycling had been sort of a “feel good” measure for her. But as she was tossing something into her recycle bin, she thought, “What am I doing with this in the first place?” She also noticed that when Western Earth Carers did presentations on the 3 R’s and asked school children what was the most important “R,” most of them would say, “Recycle,” probably because it was the only one they had heard of or practiced at home.
So Rebecca turned up to work one day in 2011 and said, “Hey, let’s go plastic-free next month.” They put the word out in their newsletter and got 40 households to participate. At the end of the month, several participants got together and shared what they had collected in their “Dilemma Bags” — the plastics they hadn’t been able to avoid. They gave each other support and tips and several people went on to found other plastic-related projects.
The next year, in 2012, they created a Facebook page, showed the film “Bag It” in a local school, and organized a workshop with demonstrations on things like making your own yogurt and toothpaste and making reusable produce bags from old t-shirts. More and more people joined in.
This year, Plastic-Free July has its own website and has spread across the world. Rebecca told me that this year, only 47% of participants are from Australia. She started listing all the countries participating, and I couldn’t write fast enough to get them all down. Suffice it to say, there are a lot! I’m so encouraged and inspired by the idea of so many people across the planet refusing single-use plastics at the same time. We ARE part of a huge movement. The times are changing. Doesn’t it feel great to be part of the solution?