Plastic Free July focuses on reducing the use of single-use plastics – particularly plastic bags, straws, water bottles, and coffee cups.
Single-use plastics are exactly what they sound like – plastics that are used only once then discarded. These plastics never break down. They take up space in landfills, pollute our oceans, poison our ecosystem, and deplete our fossil fuel resources. Single-use plastics are a wasteful, yet often overlooked use of our natural resources. Plastic Free July aims to increase awareness of individual use and encourages rethinking or refusing single-use plastics.
Plastic never goes away.
Did you know the average plastic bag is only used for 12 minutes?
Once discarded, plastic cannot biodegrade. It can break down into smaller pieces, but it never goes away.
Make a list (mental or otherwise) of all the plastic you’ve used today, in the last week, or in the last hour. That plastic coffee lid and stirrer used this morning will still be in pristine condition when your great-great-great-great grandchildren roam the Earth. The plastic take-out container discarded last week will take up space for centuries to come. Think about what you use and how you use it, considering that plastic will outlive you and your grandchildren by far. Ask yourself if you really need that plastic bag, or if you can go without.
By 2050, plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish.
Remember growing up, being told that “you are what you eat”? Well, if you eat seafood, there is a good chance you’re eating plastics.
To reiterate, plastic NEVER breaks down. When sunlight hits it, it is broken into smaller pieces (called photo-degradation) but it never goes away. These small pieces (called microplastics or nurdles) are extremely hazardous because they are easily consumed by marine organisms. Scientists who study plastic pollution in shellfish claim “when you eat clams and oysters, you’re eating plastics as well.” Several fish species are also expected to contain plastics.
Not only does plastic affect humans, but these plastics also accumulate in the stomach of marine animals often leading to death by starvation. It is estimated that 100 million marine organisms die from ocean plastic per year.
Reducing individual plastic use is one small step towards reducing ocean plastic. Much ocean plastic is due to unsustainable fishing practices
Plastics are toxic.
Not only are plastics toxic, but they also absorb toxins.
~8% of oil consumption goes to plastic use.
Reducing plastic use keeps oil in the ground, where it belongs. Oil is a fossil fuel, meaning once we use it up, it is all gone. Extracting oil is detrimental to our land and water. Burning oil releases pollutants into the air and water which are altering our global climate.