HomeThe CSWD BlogReducing wasteTake the challenge: Spend a month without plastic

Take the challenge: Spend a month without plastic

Every July, over a million people around the world take the Plastic Free July Challenge.

It’s a simple step: Just stop accepting single-use plastics for one month.

Water bottles, plastic forks, plastic bags in a row with a line through them.
Image by Plastic Free July


Here’s why:

​The plastic bottles, bags and takeaway containers that we use just for a few minutes use a material that is designed to last forever.

These plastics:

  • Break up, not break down – becoming permanent pollution
  • Are mostly downcycled (made into low grade product for just one more use) or sent to landfill
  • ‘Escape’ from bins, trucks, events etc. to become ‘accidental litter’
  • End up in waterways and the ocean – where scientists predict there will be more tonnes of plastic than tonnes of fish by 2050
  • Transfer to the food chain – carrying pollutants with them
  • Increase our eco-footprint – plastic manufacturing consumes 6% of the world’s fossil fuels

Every bit of plastic ever made still exists and in the first 10 years of this century the world economy produced more plastic than the entire 1900’s!

Read more on the Plastic Free July website.

Reducing plastic, raising awareness

Now, a month may seem like an impossibly long time to forego plastics. After all, they surround us—and a whole lot of products that we buy.

But don’t give up yet! Because even if you fail, you’re still succeeding. This isn’t just a month about reducing “disposable” plastics in our environment. It’s actually about simply being more aware of the stuff that you’re using—and tossing.

Some of you might be thinking, “July is almost over! I guess I’ll wait til next year.” Pfft. Just because this month is half-over doesn’t mean the challenge has to be! Pick your own month, and get cracking.

The Big Three

If an entire plastic-free month seems overly daunting to you, focus on ditching three big ones:

Plastic bags

Bring reusable bags and actually use them! Put them up in the front seat of your car so you’ll remember to use them. Or hang them on the doorknob at home so you’ll remember to put them back in your car.

Plastic water bottles

Bring a reusable water bottle with you. In most areas of the country, tap water is delicious and freely available. (In Chittenden County, water treatment plants have actually won awards for their work.)

Give it a try and don’t fall for the bad rap laid on the tap by those who profit from selling water—for more per gallon than we pay for gasoline!

Styrofoam cups

Styrofoam is plastic, too (unfortunately, it’s the non-recyclable kind here in Vermont). If you see Styrofoam, vote with your feet (and your wallet) and give your business to a store that is saying NO to Styrofoam.

Better yet, bring your own travel mug or reusable containers and eliminate the need for paper cups and takeout boxes (they’re not recyclable, either!).

What are you waiting for? Grab a like-minded friend (or three skeptical ones) and take the pledge together. I guarantee that you’ll learn a few things about yourself, and each other.

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Clare has lived in Tennessee, New Mexico, California, Virginia, Connecticut, Texas, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and, for the past 10 years, Vermont. She can be found peering into recycling bins everywhere to see what works and is frequently quizzed about recycling and composting in random places when people find out where she works. She spends as much time as possible playing ukulele and roaming through Vermont’s spectacular mountains and forests.