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Small steps can make a big difference

The Plastic Free July Team | 16 May 2023

We can’t recycle or clean up our way out of the plastic pollution crisis. In 2023, Plastic Free July participants will again be taking their own small steps to turn off the plastics tap by choosing to refuse single-use plastics—and together, making a big difference.  

This year’s ‘Small steps, big difference’ campaign kicks off on 1 July with an invitation to join millions of people worldwide taking steps towards ending plastic pollution.  

Every individual choice makes a powerful impact. How do we know this? In 2022, the steps taken by Plastic Free July participants from around the world collectively reduced waste by 2.6 million tonnes – that’s the equivalent of around 13 thousand blue whales. This year we hope to make an even bigger difference. Throughout the campaign we’ll be sharing ideas and solutions to reduce plastic waste. Some people are avoiding soft drinks and water in plastic bottles, some are avoiding pre-packaged produce. Others are choosing reusable coffee cups. Some Plastic Free July participants are taking the next steps in their plastic reduction journey by taking their own containers for takeaway food and choosing milk in returnable bottles.  

“Whatever the alternative, people choosing to refuse single-use plastic together get noticed and it inspires others to take part. When shared with family and friends, our actions show what is possible” Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, founder, Plastic Free July.

As governments come together to negotiate the global plastics treaty, this groundswell of community action has the capacity to influence business and government policy. 

Turning off plastics ‘at the tap’ is critical to:   

Avoiding landfill waste and protecting the ocean: By taking steps to avoid plastic items that usually end up in landfill, we can help prevent items breaking up into microplastics that cause lasting harm to wildlife and marine ecosystems.  

In fact, when we add up the results from 12 of the world’s largest waste clean-ups over the last year, we found that the actions of Plastic Free July participants have helped to prevent 38 times the weight of waste collected by these clean-ups.  

Reducing consumption and production: By taking steps to refuse, reduce, reuse and refill, we aren’t using up as many of the earth’s resources. Millions of people around the world are altering their shopping habits, choosing to actively avoid excessive plastic packaging [Ellen MacArthur Foundation]. Plastic Free July shares ideas and solutions to avoid materials being used just once or twice before being thrown in the bin. 

Reducing human health impacts: By taking steps to avoid food that is wrapped or heated in plastic, we can limit potentially hazardous chemical exposure. Links between plastic and detrimental effects on human health are increasingly clear, with thousands of harmful chemicals used in plastic production (Minderooo-Monaco Commission). 

Connecting communities and creating lasting change: By taking steps to reduce waste such as taking a reusable cup to a café or simply dining in, or shopping at a farmers market or local green grocer with our own bags, we can start conversations and inspire others as well. People tell us they feel inspired about seeing less waste in their bin each week. Research shows our behaviour impacts others around us, creating new social norms.  

Which small step will you choose this July?   

A popular way many people start their Plastic Free July journey is by taking the Pesky Plastic Quiz. People find it helps them discover all the plastics that ‘sneak’ into their shopping as well as great alternatives that can become new habits forever. 

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What you can do to avoid plastic

Want some tips to find out how you can reduce plastic waste? The good news is, anyone can get involved. You can start out small, or really challenge yourself. Get inspired!

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