A Guide To Plastic Free July

Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues, as the rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products overwhelms the world’s ability to deal with them.

So how bad is the plastic problem?

  • As of 2018, approximately 380 million tons of plastic is produced worldwide each year[1]
  • Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years[2]
  • Production is expected to double by 2050[3]
  • Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That’s the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world[4]
  • The largest proportion of plastic waste comes from packaging materials (47%), while textiles are responsible for 14% and transport 6%[5]
  • By 2050, the production of new plastic from fossil fuels could consume 10-13% of the remaining global carbon budget permissible to ensure temperatures rise to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels as required by the Paris climate agreement[6]
  • A 2021 study determined that 44% of plastic debris in rivers and oceans, and on shorelines, was made up of bags, bottles, and items related to takeout meals[7] 

The impact

Plastic pollution contributes to the death of approximately 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds per year[8]. Additionally, humans constant exposure to BPAs and Phthalates from plastic has been linked to cancer, hormone disruption[9] and infertility[10].

Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July is a global movement developed by the Plastic Free Foundation[11] which attempts to help people be a part of the solution to plastic pollution by pledging to go plastic-free for July. The intended outcome is to create cleaner streets, oceans and communities and work towards a world free of plastic waste. This year there are 26 million participants in 177 countries!

To participate in the campaign you can sign up here, via the Plastic Free July website. You can then take a pledge confirming how you will participate this July. For example, giving up a few single-use plastics for the month (i.e. takeaway coffee cups) or going completely plastic-free.

The Plastic Free July website also provides resources and ideas to help you reduce single-use plastic waste every day at home, work, school, and even at your local café.

Here are some of my favourites:

  • Swap traditional teabags which contain plastic for loose leaf tea or plastic-free teabags
  • Swap single-use plastic water bottles for BPA free reusable bottles – I have used my Chilly’s bottle for almost two years which I highly recommend.
  • Use a reusable coffee cup for your coffee run
  • Use reusable shopping bags
  • Swap body wash, hand soap and shampoo to bar soaps
  • Decline plastic straws the next time you’re out

Are you currently participating in Plastic Free July? What plastic-free swaps have you made and how easy/ difficult was it to make the swap? Please share your comments below.


[1] https://cleanstreets.westminster.gov.uk/plastic-waste-complete-guide/

[2] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-pollution

[3] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-pollution

[4] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-pollution

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/01/call-for-global-treaty-to-end-production-of-virgin-plastic-by-2040

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/01/call-for-global-treaty-to-end-production-of-virgin-plastic-by-2040

[7] https://www.britannica.com/science/plastic-pollution/Plastic-pollution-in-oceans-and-on-land

[8] https://www.sas.org.uk/our-work/plastic-pollution/plastic-pollution-facts-figures/

[9] https://www.britannica.com/science/plastic-pollution/Plastic-pollution-in-oceans-and-on-land

[10] https://youtu.be/yVyzjEF_sKw

[11] Their 2020 impact report can be found here.

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