If I’ve learned anything over the last 12 months, it’s that individual action has to be coupled with collective action to truly make change. For Plastic Free July, I’ve always tried to avoid disposable, single-use plastics. But what if we also held the manufacturers and policy makers accountable too?
This list is a compilation of ways to go further than voting with your wallet for Plastic-Free July. It’s also a list of amazing people and organisations laying the foundation for plastic-free change! I’ll be doing as many of these as I can this month, and I hope it might inspire you to try a few too!
1. Sign Petition For A New UK Law To End Plastic Pollution
If you’re taking part in Plastic Free July, I’m sure this petition is something you will also want to sign too. Friends of the Earth is campaigning for the UK government to stem the tide of plastic pollution at its source. In specific, they want the introduction of new law that:
- Phases out non-essential single-use plastics now
- Commits to tackling trickier plastics, like in clothes and car tyres, as soon as possible
- Maintains quality of life for people who need plastics, without causing worse environmental problems.
Signing Friends of the Earth’s plastic pollution petition here, and share it with your networks too!
2. Call For A #BigBagBan
Planet Patrol is an organisation I’ve enjoyed supporting for a few years now, having been on their paddleboarding clean-ups and also kept their app to hand for whenever I collect litter. This year, they introduced a new campaign: the #BigBagBan!
The campaign shows how the UK’s 5p bag charge – now a 10p bag charge – is completely flawed. In their Open Letter, they highlight how supermarkets and big chain stores are circumventing the sale of disposable bags with Bags For Life, which contain up to three times the amount of plastic! And yet, the UK Government is calling the scheme a great success.
Their petition calls for Environment Secretary, George Eustice MP, to ban plastic bags outright. And if you feel as strongly about it as I do, you may also wish to use their email templates to email your MP and email supermarkets about it too.
3. Campaign For Plastic Free Period Products
Activist (and lovely friend!) Ella Daish is holding big period product brands accountable for the unnecessary plastic they’re creating. Her petition to make all period products plastic free is well worth signing if you haven’t already, and keep up with her work on her IG!
If you’re able to go the extra mile, you could also share a picture calling to #EndPeriodPlastic! I’ve been supporting this campaign for a long while now and the action days really do make a difference.
So far, Ella has got ALDI, Sainsbury’s, and Superdrug to commit to stop producing plastic tampon applicators, saving 17 tonnes of plastic annually. She has also encouraged Lil-Lets, Morrisons, and Superdrug create their own eco-friendly ranges too!
4. Join A Clean-Up
If you’re looking to do something on a collective level IRL, a clean-up is the best bet! Both Planet Patrol and Surfers Against Sewage list local community clean-ups, as well as a function to list your own clean-up if you’d prefer to organise your own!
5. Speed Up The Introduction Of A Deposit Return Scheme
A Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles was promised by UK Government in 2018. Its aim: to encourage people to return their disposable plastic bottles and receive a small amount of money back at the same time. In the UK, we use 38.5 million plastic bottles every single day, so this would have a huge impact!
Sadly the implementation of this scheme has been delayed until 2024. Surfers Against Sewage is calling for Government to bring forward its implementation now, and you can get involved by emailing your MP through their site.
6. Consider Eco-Ableism When Going Plastic Free
It would be remiss of me not to include a note here on eco-ableism, a term that defines how environmental actions and policy can often forget those who are differently abled. Any action we take to be more sustainable has consequences, and learning to recognise each other’s differences is integral to intersectional environmentalism.
When it comes to eco-ableism, Isaias Hernandez’s recent post explains this really well. The crux of the matter is that we need to consider how certain single-use disposable items may be necessary to certain members of the public, and ensure they are also included in our actions, rather than erased.
Consider the UK’s recent ban on plastic straws. While it prohibits commercial businesses from openly selling plastic straws, it does provide an exemption to plastic straws required in a medical setting, and also when specifically requested. The same has to be considered across our own personal statements and actions, as well as campaigns more generally.
7. Check Out The Winners Of The Plastic Free Awards
Finally, I wanted to highlight the great work so many others are making to help reduce plastic waste! This list is certainly not exhaustive of ways to support a plastic-free future, and this year’s Plastic Free Awards showcases just incredible people tackling unnecessary plastic in their own ways. From activists to charities to organisations, there’s a lot to be inspired by, and also get involved with too! Check them out here →
P.S. Want to win the Baggu Tote Bag pictured? Enter my giveaway over on Instagram!