3 Tips for Plastic Free July

plastic free july

Plastic Free July is a global movement that envisions a world free of plastic waste. Over the past several years, plastic pollution entered the spotlight with images of plastic waste washing up on beaches and marine life entangled in plastic. This plastic pollution crisis in our oceans and landfills, is also a significant threat to people and the planet through a climate lens. Virtually all plastics are made of fossil fuels – oil, gas, and coal. Greenhouse gasses are emitted at each stage of the plastic lifecycle, from extraction and transport to disposal. In fact, the US plastics industry’s contribution to climate change is expected to exceed that of coal by the year 2030. And more than 90% of the climate pollution that the plastics industry reports to the EPA occurs in just 18 communities that are disproportionately low income communities and communities of color. 

Eliminating single-use plastic is the most effective way to solve this plastic crisis for people and the planet. Here are 3 ways to participate in Plastic Free July to make a real difference in our community, beyond a single month. 

1. Learn Together

Host a screening of The Story of Plastic with your friends, family, coworkers, and/or neighbors. 

Rent it for $3 here. Here are others ways to watch.

Once you finish the film, debrief with your group about something new you learned, something that surprised you, or something that didn’t surprise you. Discuss how your group can apply what you learned to making a difference in your own community. 

2. Take Action

Here are a few ideas for taking action at several different scales:

  • Leave recyclables loose in your recycling bin – don’t line your bin with a plastic bag.
  • Have an event coming up? Swap single use dishware for reusable dishware!
    • Checkout the reusable dishware kits available for free checkouts at The Environmental Center  
    • If you have a larger event or need something different, rent reusable dishware from a local event rental company (like Curated)
  • Need something? See if you can borrow it before buying new.
    • Check out the Library of Things. It has over 50 things you can borrow for free from the Deschutes Library locations – including a projector you can use for your screening of the Story of Plastic!
  • Do you have an idea for reducing waste in your neighborhood, workplace, school, your favorite park or restaurant, or other community space, but aren’t sure how to get started? Apply for the Community Innovation Fund. Each project can be awarded up to $5,000 and receive support from our team with project development, implementation, and evaluation. The next two application cycles close July 1 and October 1. 

3. Advocate for Change

Advocating for policies and practices that eliminate plastic at its source is a powerful approach to help our communities successfully reduce their plastic consumption. Just last month, two bills to reduce single use plastic passed through the Oregon legislature and were signed into law.

Now that the legislative session is wrapping up, here is another way to advocate for local change – write a letter, email, Instagram direct message, etc. to your favorite restaurant, coffee shop, or other business encouraging them to eliminate at least one source of plastic in their operations. Perhaps you ask them to participate in Plastic Free July by swapping out their single-use utensils for reusables or swapping out their plastic to-go bags for paper. Be specific with your ask and share why it’s important for you as a customer and community member.  

Plastic Free July offers an opportunity for individuals, communities, and organizations to take action, and create a ripple effect that extends far beyond a single month. Tell us how you plan to participate!

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