How to Participate in Plastic Free July 2020

by Kaitlin Grable

July 1, 2020

Plastic Free July begins today, and it provides an opportunity for us to choose a future with cleaner communities and oceans through refusing single-use plastics. Here’s how you can get involved!

We live in a broken system, where corporations create and perpetuate a throwaway culture to plague our world with disposable products, giving us virtually no choice but to purchase plastics in some way.

Our oceans are slowly turning into a plastic soup, and the effects on ocean life are chilling. Discarded plastic fishing lines trap and entangle turtles and seabirds, and plastic pieces of all sizes choke and clog the stomachs of creatures who mistake it for food, from tiny zooplankton to whales. Plastic is now entering every level of the ocean food chain and is even ending up in the seafood on our plates.

In addition to that, plastic production is polluting communities of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). Plastic starts in the ground as a fossil fuel. The process that transforms those fossil fuels into plastics releases large amounts of toxic chemicals into the air, polluting the surrounding communities. This pollution results in a slew of health problems for local residents including cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and childhood leukemia. The communities affected and poisoned are disproportionately those of BIPOC.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We are calling on big corporations to act to reduce their plastic footprint – and stop producing plastic packaging that is designed to be used once then thrown away.

Until corporations find ways to deliver their products to us that don’t involve destructive single-use plastics, reducing and refusing these disposable plastics is important in fighting the plastic pollution crisis.

Today marks the beginning of Plastic Free July 2020!

Plastic Free July is a global movement that empowers millions of people to choose a future with cleaner communities and oceans through refusing single-use plastics. It is a great opportunity to get people thinking and talking about plastic pollution as well as the alternatives and solutions we must advocate for.

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world are demonstrating that a life free from unnecessary plastic and disposable material is still possible. This year’s Plastic Free July will continue paving the way to #BreakFreeFromPlastic while encouraging principles built on a just recovery from the pandemic. Head to Break Free From Plastic’s website to learn about the principles for a just recovery in building towards a better normal.

So, how do you participate?

All you have to do is commit to one month of trying to avoid disposable plastic. You can challenge yourself and commit in different levels. 

  • Beginner: You can pick one disposable item to avoid all month, like single-use plastic straws, coffee cups, grocery bags, or water bottles, and create a new solid habit of using your own reusables!
  • Intermediate: You can commit to eliminating all those top four (single-use plastic straws, coffee cups, grocery bags, or water bottles) or another mixture of single-use plastic items you notice frequently popping up in your lifestyle.
  • Expert: You can go all in and avoid all disposable plastic all month!

If you need guidance, you can find lots of it on the official Plastic Free July website!

The great thing about Plastic Free July is that it’s only a month-long commitment. It gives us the opportunity to challenge ourselves to do better on the individual level and see if the lifestyle changes are something we can commit to in the long term. 

The first time I participated was in July 2017. I was already using reusable water bottles and bags, but I started to think more critically about my waste footprint. At the end of that month, I had created new habits that I was happy to continue employing in my daily life, and I was inspired to do more, to do better, and to live much more consciously than I had been.

It’s important to keep in mind when going into the Plastic Free July commitment that reducing plastic in our lives, even just for one month, can be very difficult and time-consuming. For many people, plastic-free options are not feasible, accessible, or affordable. We are living in a broken system, and to combat the issue of plastic pollution, we need to stop plastics at the source. If your bathtub was overflowing, you wouldn’t immediately reach for a mop. You would first turn off the tap. That’s what we need to do with plastics. So, this Plastic Free July, advocate for the elimination of single-use plastics with us. Demand big corporations to act to reduce their plastic footprint now! 

Need some inspiration?

When I started my Plastic Free July commitment, I had wonderful resources and a community that made it such a great experience. Many people don’t know where to start when it comes to ditching disposables, and it can be daunting.

Below are a few activists to follow for Plastic Free July inspiration! They share guidance, advice, tips, and you can follow along with their Plastic Free July and zero waste journeys on social media. They’re a good reminder that you’re not alone, but a part of a wider community seeking to live with a lower impact on our earth.

Brown Girl Green

Kristy is an activist who is focused on creating a diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible environmental field. She will be sharing her experiences with Plastic Free July throughout the month!



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Queer Brown Vegan

Isaias is a vegan and zero waste activist who makes accessible environmental education content and seeks to provide a safe space for other like-minded environmentalists to engage in the discourse of the current climate crisis.


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Plastic Free Mermaid

Kate has lived without single-use plastics for over a decade! She is also involved in activism to hold corporations accountable for the waste they create, last year she even joined Greenpeace on the Plastic Monster Ship Tour.



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Green Girl Leah

Leah is an eco-activist and the founder of Intersectional Environmentalist, a platform for resources, information and action steps to support intersectional environmentalism and dismantle systems of oppression in the environmental movement, led by environmental activists and sustainability advocates.


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Zero Waste Chica

On her page, Heidi has shared her natural remedies and recipes for beauty products that help make plastic waste unnecessary. She is no longer active on Instagram, but her page remains up for reference for anyone looking to lower their waste.




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Cero Waste Cindy

Cindy is a Garden Ranger who strives for a low waste lifestyle and shares her experiences with the intersection of this lifestyle with her outdoor recreation. She invites people into her lifestyle through leading by example and creating a conversation around it. 


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Wasteland Rebel

Shia is zero waste, plastic and palm oil-free, minimalist, and vegan. She does it all and doesn’t forget the importance of system change in addressing these issues. Her feed is full of great inspiration for anyone embarking on these journeys!


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Zero Waste Cutie

Elizabeth is zero waste activist who will be taking the Plastic Free July challenge. She provides great educational resources and tips for transitioning into a waste-free lifestyle!



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Waste Free Marie

Marie speaks and acts on climate activism in the frame of its many intersections with social and racial justice issues. She aims to make sustainability accessible while equipping people with actionable steps to move towards addressing the root causes of environmental issues.


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Kaitlin Grable

By Kaitlin Grable

Kaitlin Grable (she/they) is an Online Content Specialist at Greenpeace USA. She is currently based out of Durham, North Carolina on Eno and Occaneechi territory.

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