Plastic Free July was started in 2011 by the Plastic Free Foundation, a non-profit based in Australia. Since its origin, the event has expanded to over 150 countries working with millions of people to tackle plastic pollution worldwide.
Why is Plastic a problem?
There are over 8.3 billion tons of plastic in the world, of which the majority ends up either in landfills or our oceans. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish (by weight).
The damage caused by plastic reaches all aspects of our ecosystem, with approximately 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals killed each year due to plastic pollution. This does not include the negative impact of microplastic on human health ...
The United Nations started an initiative called the Clean Seas Campaign in 2017. This initiative launched in 2017 aims to engage government, businesses, and individuals to make changes to reduce waste and promote policies that will keep our waterways clean.
What is Plastic Free July?
Plastic Free July was founded back in 2011 by the Plastic Free Foundation (based in Australia) with the aim of combatting global plastic pollution.
Since its inception has seen incredible success with participation from millions of people across more than 150 countries globally. By encouraging individuals, businesses, and communities to reduce plastic consumption the movement has helped foster a mindset shift towards more sustainable alternatives to plastic.
The movement has an especially great impact on individuals looking to make a difference - Check out their plastics-free quiz to start tracking habits for reducing your impact. Whether choosing to shop with more eco-conscious brands or other lifestyle adjustments.
10 Ways your business can take part in Plastic Free July
In recent years we have seen a number of great initiatives in line with the Clean Seas Campaign. That same year, the country of Kenya banned single-use plastic bags countrywide.
Businesses shouldn't wait for their home governments to implement laws before reducing plastic as part of their CSR strategies.
1) Use recycled Materials in your products
Thanks to changing consumer values we are seeing more and more brands use recycled materials in their products. One great example was the collaboration between Adidas and Parley. As part of the campaign, Adidas created turning plastic bottles into shoes.
2) Offer Plastic Free Packaging
Consider using recyclable or biodegradable materials such as cardboard, glass, or compostable bio-based plastics as part of your company's product packaging. Try working with a sustainable packaging partner like Sourceful.
You should also consider the suppliers that your business uses. Don't be shy to use your buying power to guide your suppliers to be more environmentally sustainable.
3) Offset your Plastic Footprint
While it might not be possible to remove all plastic from your business - there are some great plastic offsetting initiatives that your business can take part in.
Follow the likes of Iceland, who in 2021 spent on ocean and beach clean-up efforts to help offset their plastic footprint for the year.
4) Use your company reach to raise awareness
It is important for brands to show that they care about issues to align with their customers - but a feeble attempt at Virtue Signalling could do more harm than good for your brand. Use an opportunity like Plastic Free July to not only make a direct impact but also to educate your customers and employees on the importance of plastic reduction.
5) Switch to reusable packaging
If you really want to show your commitment to the circular economy, consider using reusable packaging for your business. Working with a provider like Re-Pack can give your business access to many reusable mail items like mailers and shipping containers.
6) Track and share your company's progress
It is incredibly important to not only track your progress but share it with the world! By celebrating your milestones you are not only creating some great content to share with your customers but you are also showing them (and other businesses) that it is possible to make a real difference.
7) Fundraise for Plastic Free Charities
While we have already mentioned offsetting initiatives and charities like Parley for the Ocean, there are a number of great ocean conservation charities that work hard to impact government policy for good!
By supporting a charity that fights against plastic you are showing the world that you care. Whether you are a large enterprise like Addidas or an SMB like m-cooler, supporting charities is a great option for businesses of all sizes.
8) Create a product care guide
AYM created a care guide with recommendations for washing and even basic guidelines for repairing snags and tears on their clothing. This means that their products not only last longer (which is great for customer satisfaction) but also that their need to replace items in the future decreased - this means less plastic consumption for customers.
9) Create a buy-back program
More and more companies are leveraging buyback programmes for their products. This is a great way for a brand to stand behind the longevity of its products while promoting a circular economy. Some brands like Monty and Co even resell their previously loved items with proceeds supporting charities they care about, like the Fashion & Textile Trust charity.
10) Run a volunteer clean up
In the digital age, many businesses often overlook the real impact that can be made by getting out in the world and picking up plastic/garbage. While not everyone lives near a beach, spending a few hours outdoors collecting waste is a great way to make a real impact for the planet.