Plastic free July – a challenge!

 Green Flash No 47 July 2014

Plastic is one of the most popular and useful materials of modern times. However, its popularity is part of the problem: we now use about 20 times more plastic than we did 50 years ago. We realise that a total ban on all plastics is not a realistic or even a desirable goal. Some plastic products are worth the environmental costs. But here’s something to think about.

Plastic Free July is a simple idea developed in 2011. It aims to raise awareness of the amount of plastic in our lives by encouraging people to eliminate the use of single-use plastic during July each year.

Here are some reasons why you might wish to reduce your plastic use:

  • You don’t like the fact that hormone inhibitors and toxic chemicals can leach from plastic packaging into your food.
  • You hate plastic pollution.
  • You want to conserve non-renewable fossil fuels (oil).
  • You want to reduce the consumption of energy used.
  • You want to reduce the amount of solid waste going to landfill.
  • You want to reduce the emission of gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Last year, over seven billion carrier bags were issued by supermarkets in England. A huge number of these ended up in landfill or scattered around our streets and rivers killing wildlife and costing tax-payers millions of pounds to clean up.  Good news is that small charges for bags introduced in Ireland, Wales and Switzerland have led to an 80 per cent reduction in the number of carrier bags issued.

 The Challenge

The challenge is quite simple. Attempt to refuse single-use plastic during July. 

“Single-use” includes plastic shopping bags, plastic cups, straws, plastic packaging – basically anything that’s intended only to be used once and then discarded. If refusing ALL single-use plastic sounds too daunting this time, try the TOP 4 challenge (straws, plastic bags, plastic bottles & coffee cup lids).

It’s not going to be easy! It is a challenge, not a competition so don’t worry about being perfect.

It’s up to you regarding how long you participate. You might decide to go plastic-free for a day, a week, a month or longer! However long you choose will still make a contribution.

  • Be aware of the plastic you use and consider how to reduce it.
  • Before you shop, think about how you could reduce your waste.
  •  Buy things with less packaging, or items which are second-hand.
  • Try to buy something that will last longer rather than a disposable item?
  • ​​Try to avoid taking home more carrier bags; choose reusable shopping bags.
  • Recycle all the plastics you can.

For more inspiration go to:

TED x Great Pacific Garbage Patch/Living Plastic Free

The DRARA Environment Action Group aims to support practical ways of reducing energy use and promote environmentally friendly lifestyles.    For further information about the Environment Action Group, please contact: Anna on

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