Public concern for plastic pollution is high but people often question what difference they can make. Plastic Free July is a global social movement turning the tide on plastic waste, one choice at a time. This movement is flipping the script by focusing on solutions and demonstrating the difference collective action can make.
Working with a behavioral scientist, Plastic Free July introduced the concept that people can ‘choose to refuse’ single-use plastics in their daily lives and changed the dialogue on personal plastic consumption and empowering communities – rather than focus on clean-ups and recycling. The movement is an entry point to increase public literacy and support behavior change to finally ‘turn off the tap’ of plastic waste.
Since 2011, people have taken the challenge to go plastic free in July by choosing to refuse the single-use plastics we use daily. The unique month-long challenge empowers people to act and share positive stories about solutions. By focusing on reduction and avoidance, it has been proven to create long term behavior change with 87% of participants making at least one long lasting change.
Globally, in 2021, participants reduced non-recoverable (landfill) waste by 1.2 billion and recyclable waste by 900 million kg, including plastic consumption by 0.3 million tons. It is astonishing to note that this movement –mobilizing millions of people- started with only 40 individuals.
A staggering 26% of consumers (at least 313 million people) surveyed by Ipsos were aware of Plastic Free July and 140 million had participated with sign-ups from 190 countries and replicated by schools, councils and companies. Today, this global social movement inspires people to be part of the solution in their own lives, connects community for action and calls on business and governments to end plastic pollution. The global plastic treaty agreed upon at the United Nations Environment Assembly shows that leaders are listening.