Plastic-Free July: What It Is and Why It Matters  

Chances are, you’ve heard about how important it is to cut down on plastics. Plastic sits in landfills forever, after all. Some people have taken the spirit of reducing waste to the next level in the form of Plastic-Free July. Learn more about what it is below, including why we should all be doing our part.

What Is Plastic-Free July?

Plastic-Free July is a global event that focuses on reducing single-use plastic items. With how common it is to use single-use plastic items during summer as part of cookouts, it takes place during the perfect month. 

The month is simply a challenge to see if you can go the whole month without using single-use plastics, like straws, plastic silverware or plastic bags. The idea is to teach people that with some forward planning, cutting out plastics might be easier than we think. For instance, bringing our own bags to the grocery store can cut out using plastic bags to hold produce or whole grocery orders. Instead of cling wrap, it can be an easy switch to lidded, washable containers of reusable wax cloth wraps. Other ideas include bringing a reusable cup to your favorite coffee shop, using reusable travel cutlery at that cookout or buying reusable metal straws. 

The best part of the challenge is that once someone makes these changes, they might realize how easy they were, and continue to use fewer disposable items.

Plastic-Free July can also help people make a difference. In fact, 75.25% of readers in an All Things Hair poll said that they believe in their ability to make a difference with their plastic use.         

Why Is Plastic-Free July Important?

Most of us have heard by now that plastic tends to stick around for a while. How long can depend on what the item is. For instance, a plastic toothbrush lasts for 500 years, along with disposable diapers and coffee pods. A plastic bag, like you’d get from the supermarket lasts 20 years. Think about that: if you had a child right now, that person would be in college by the time the thin plastic bag you threw away today would be decomposed.   

There’s also the impact these items can have on the environment and our health. As one example, it has been in the news for a long time that we need to cut the plastic rings off of six-packs before throwing them away so they don’t strangle birds and other wildlife.

There’s also the rising concern of microplastics, or plastic that breaks down into such small components that it ends up in the very air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. The health effects of microplastics are still mostly unknown, but there are natural concerns about toxicity from the chemical and physical nature of ingesting plastic

We’ve also seen the plastic that litters the side of roads, washes up on beaches and junks up beautiful parks.   

So, it stands to reason that any reduction in plastic can help both the environment and each of us individually. With how easy it is to cut out single-use plastics, Plastic-Free July is a simple movement that starts at home and can make a real difference.