Going Plastic-Free In Your Community This July - by Ashley Winder
Every year, millions of people around the globe take part in the Plastic Free July challenge. This challenge empowers individuals to contribute to the reduction in worldwide plastic waste that so often ends up in our landfills or in our oceans.
The overall goal of Plastic Free July is to raise awareness of plastic waste, create a demand for more sustainable products, and to start a conversation about plastic pollution and solutions to advocate for - with the hope to extend efforts beyond a single month.
If you’ve never joined before, some simple ways to participate in this movement include refusing single-use straws and single-use coffee cups, bringing your own grocery bags, avoiding plastic-wrapped produce, and using reusable water bottles. While these are amazing first steps, they are steps that we can make on our own.
But how can we challenge our own community to reduce its plastic waste and participate in this year’s challenge?
To give you some ideas of how you can get your community involved, we’ve gathered a few fantastic ways to bring the plastic-free initiative into your local area.
Host a plastic-free event
Host a dinner party, birthday party, afternoon tea, or picnic and highlight your plastic-free effort by providing food and drinks that are not sourced, wrapped, or served using plastic.
This could mean heading to your local bulk food stores and filling up your silicone ziplock bags with nuts, dried fruits, and trail mix for snacks. You could also make a few dishes from scratch (remember to try and source your ingredients without plastic wrapping!). Just pack them in reusable containers or beeswax wraps if you have those handy.
Try utilising your local farmer’s market to source fresh produce for your event. Vendors usually forgo plastic wrapping and plastic bags, too. Some even encourage you to return or reuse your jar or produce vessels to eliminate waste!
Just don’t forget to bring along reusable cutlery, plates, and glasses for your guests! If you don’t have an abundance of these items, ask your guests to bring their own. This makes for a unique and fun twist to your event.
Even if you are serving just one meal - your example can empower your friends and family to kick-start their own plastic-free initiative. Sometimes all it takes is visual evidence and a conversation.
Organise a local clean-up
A great way to get your community involved in Plastic-Free July is to set up a day (weather permitting) that you can clean-up your local park, city, lakeside, riverside, or beach. This does require more logistical planning and possibly approval from your local council - but it’s a great way to give back while also making your neighbourhood a better and cleaner place to live.
To recruit volunteers, you can:
- Tell neighbours, friends, community members, local businesses, churches, or other organisations about your event
- Promote your event on social media
- Add the event to online community event calendars
If you do set up an event, don’t forget to post it on Plastic Free July’s webpage so others in your area can find it and participate!
Even if you are unable to organise an event for your community, you can still commit to personally picking up X amount of litter every day throughout July. You might be surprised when at the end of the month, you still want to continue your plastic clean-up initiative.
Start conversations in your community
Starting conversations with your friends and family about Plastic-free July is a fabulous way to spread the word within your inner circle. If you want to take this movement even further and really involve your local community, try having a conversation with a local business about simple ways they can reduce their plastic waste.
You could encourage your local coffee shop to offer a reusable cup discount to its customers (or a surcharge for non-reusable cups). Perhaps you could reach out to a local boutique and encourage them to eliminate plastic shopping bags.
Here at Green Island, we are committed to plastic-free packaging on all orders placed.
While these are only examples, it’s important to remember that even small changes like these can have a profound impact on your community.
Participate From Your Home
Plastic Free July doesn’t always have to involve actively going out into your community to encourage change. There are several things you can do to make an impact on plastic waste in your community right from your own home.
- Make a plan to call, write, or email your local officials and advocate for plastic reduction policies in your community - and execute this plan.
- Start signing petitions that support plastic-related initiatives in your local area.
- Donate to plastic-free or green effort organisations. This is always an option - no matter what month it is.
Sure, buying less, shopping at bulk food stores, switching out your single-use plastic products for reusables, bringing reusable bags, avoiding plastic straws, and recycling will always be great ways to participate in Plastic-Free July.
But, this year, we encourage you to direct your plastic-free efforts out into your local community. One person’s efforts create an impact, but multiple people’s efforts create a revolution. And a healthy and clean community contributes to a healthy and clean planet!
If you find that you want to continue your plastic-free challenge beyond July, here are great resources that encourage locals to choose a future with cleaner communities and oceans.
Resources & Links To Help You Take Plastic-Free Action
- Join Greenpeace in demanding that supermarkets reduce plastic packaging!
- Keep Britain Tidy has tons of resources for organising and getting involved in local initiatives to combat the waste problem in the U.K.
- Hertfordshire has a Waste Aware campaign with information on how to reduce your own plastic use.
- The Essex Plastic Pledge encourages residents, schools and organisations in Essex to come together and commit to trying to reduce plastic waste.
- National Geographic has a running list of Ocean Plastic Pollution Solutions implemented by national and local governments.
- Clean Up Britain’s objective is to find sustainable and effective solutions to Britain’s epidemic of litter and fly-tipping.
- Keep Kent Clean aims to bring people together from across Kent to clear up the litter that blights our towns, villages, countryside and coastline.
- If you want to participate in local clean-ups (outside of Plastic Free July), Great Britain’s Spring Clean, hosted by Keep Britain Tidy, is a fabulous option
- Research your local counties’ policies on plastic waste. Here is a list of the U.K.’s
- Local Council’s Social Media Pages
Ashley Winder is a copywriter, editor, and blogger for mindful + soulful small businesses. When she isn't writing marketing copy or advocating for environmental sustainability initiatives, you can find her exploring museums, trail running, or supporting local third-wave coffee houses.
Photo Credit: lukeporter.co.uk