It has been a decade since Rebecca Prince-Ruiz and a small government in Western Australia first introduced the ‘Plastic Free July’ initiative. This campaign, which in 2020 gathered an estimated 326 million participants worldwide, encourages individuals and businesses to actively reduce their single-use plastic consumption. As a society we are regularly reminded of the environmental impacts that single-use plastic has on the environment, so why do we need a month dedicated to raising awareness?
The key goal behind Plastic Free July is the ‘systematic change driven by a groundswell of community engagement', which arises when individuals are empowered, and positive stories of solutions and impacts are shared and promoted. Dedicating the month of July to encouraging a plastic-free society not only raises mass global awareness but allows a scope to how every small change has a much larger environmental impact.
All of us know that plastic is a huge environmental issue, from its creation the whole way through its lifetime, but let’s get scientific. From the get-go, the production of plastic causes high levels of air pollution as it releases toxins like chlorine and bromine into the atmosphere. This depletes the ozone layer, causing global warming. The obvious but scary part about this is, plastic is being produced on a mass scale. It makes sense. Plastic is in most of the products we use on a daily basis; plastic bags, packaging and chewing gum to name a few. With single-use plastic being used by us daily, everywhere we go, it is easy to forget what happens to it after we dispose of it. In reality, plastic is never really disposed of. In fact, the average plastic bottle takes roughly 450 years to decompose. Throughout its period of decomposition, a plastic bottle continues to release toxins into the environment, negatively impacting biodiversity and our planet.
But we don’t need to tell you this. None of us are truly blind to the issues of single-use plastic, and many of us have learned about these environmental global problems. However, the solution to many of these come down to choices each of us makes in day-to-day scenarios. A single-use coffee cup or a reusable coffee cup? A reusable bag or a plastic bag? A re-usable bottle or a plastic bottle? Is the environment really our top priority when making these decisions while rushing out of the house before work? We don’t need to tell you it should be. ‘Plastic Free July’ is about making sure these conscious decisions are at the forefront of our minds, the whole way through the month.
The ‘Plastic Free July’ initiative emphasises the importance of teamwork and collective effort. This can take place through your family group, or any organisation or business. Here at MCS, we understand the importance and relevance of the issues at hand and want to do our bit. Over the course of the month each of us in the marketing department are giving up one item which we regularly use that is single-use plastic. Miriam is giving up plastic water bottles, Ellen is replacing plastic straws, Lucy is ditching coffee cups, Sinead is saying no to plastic bags and Marty is losing all plastic packaging. So far, we have found that this collective effort has motivated and energised us, as well as meaning we can all hold each other accountable. In addition to these efforts, we have put ‘Plastic Free July’ posters up around our office and re-educated our co-workers on what they can or cannot put in our recycling bins. We hope that in our attempts we can make some difference to the planet and spread awareness in the meantime.
Reading articles like this can make you feel defeated and hopeless, but all hope is not lost! At the end of 2018, the UN reported that the ozone layer was gradually healing. This presents how we can work together and reverse the damage that has been done. That is why the MCS Group team are taking part in plastic-free July, to do our bit in saving the planet. For more useful information about ‘Plastic Free July’ and how you can get involved, please visit their website; https://www.plasticfreejuly.org