Plastic Free July 101


Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps participants be part of the solution of plastic pollution. It started in Australia and is now WORLDWIDE. This month long challenge forces us to be hyper aware of all the ways plastic sneaks into our lives and adopt ways to reduce our plastic use.

Despite its name, Plastic Free July is an INCLUSIVE challenge. Wherever you, however you want to participate, you are welcome! You don’t have to be completely plastic free! I have a no-judgment approach to healthy, low waste living. Once you learn more about plastic, you’ll see it EVERYWHERE. It’s really overwhelming. It’s also heartbreaking to learn how plastic is choking our oceans and marine life, poisoning our environment, contributing to global warming, and damaging our health.


Here are some quick facts about plastic:

  • 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enter the oceans each year

    • Thousands of seabirds and sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals are killed each year after ingesting plastic or getting

    • Fish in the North Pacific ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, causing intestinal injury and death and transfers plastic up the food chain to bigger fish, marine mammals and human seafood eaters. A recent study found that a quarter of fish at markets in California contained plastic in their guts, mostly in the form of plastic microfibers tangled in it.[1] 

  • 40% of plastic packaging is used ONLY once and then thrown away

    • Plastic doesn’t actually decomposed; it breaks apart into tiny pieces of plastic called microplastics.

    • The United States recycles only 9% of its plastic trash

    • About 1 million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute worldwide.

    • In 2015, Americans purchased ~346 bottles per person= 111 billion plastic beverages total

  • There are hundreds of chemicals in plastic and some are toxic. The chemicals leach into the food we eat and beverages we drink, negatively affecting our health.

    • Obesogens, for example, are endocrine disruptors involved in weight gain.[2]

    • Bisphenol A (BPA) might affect the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. It can also affect children’s behavior and there’s a possible link between BPA exposure and increased blood pressure.[3]

As overwhelming as it is, the plastic problem also offers us an amazing opportunity. Unlike many other areas of our lives, we have A LOT of control over our plastic use. Yes, there are “unavoidables”. However, there are SO MANY ways that we can reduce our plastic use with little impact to our lives!

According to the Plastic Free Foundation (the force behind Plastic Free July), those who participate in this month long challenge:

  • reduce their household waste on average by 76kg (167 lbs) per household per year (7.6%)

  • cut their use of recyclables (disposable packaging) on average by 28kg (62 lb) per household per year (5.6%)

  • contribute to a total saving of 490 million kg of plastic waste each year.

No matter how much plastic you use, there’s no better time to take the challenge and commit to making ONE step toward eliminating some of your plastic use; make the pledge here. I love this movement because it emphasizes how you can start with ONE SMALL CHANGE. You can’t fail! Any step you take is AMAZING.

If this is your first introduction to plastic free living, here are ideas for where to start:

  1. Opt for a reusable coffee cup (like the Abby’s Food Court eCoffee Cup available in 3 colors!)

  2. Use REAL silverware instead of plastic (check out my convenient & durable bamboo silverware here!)

  3. Ditch plastic water bottles. (Microplastics, tiny plastic particles, were founds in more than 90% of the most popular bottle water brands). I love Klean Kanteen & HydroFlask stainless steel water bottles.

  4. Actually use the tote bags you have lying around your house instead of relying on the plastic bags at the store!

Focusing on one small change at a time makes all the difference. And, it's a great idea to start with the worst of the plastic offenders - “single use plastics.” We use these items, like plastic bags, cups, straws, cutlery, bottles, and coffee cups, only once (for a very short amount of time) and then throw them away. Most are not recyclable or never recycled. All of the items listed above fall under that category. (Yes, coffee cups, too. They are lined with plastic!).

Each Monday of Plastic Free July, I’ll be posting a new article with my top tips and tricks for reducing the plastic in your life! You can also stay up to date with my healthy, low waste life by following me on Instagram @abbysfoodcourt and joining my newsletter (at the bottom of this page!).