How a Perth plastic movement went global

By Cassie Hart, Editor - Kids in Perth 01 Jul 2021

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This month, millions of people across the world unite with a common cause: reducing plastic pollution. The Plastic Free July® challenge educates and encourages people to reduce plastic waste to contribute to a cleaner world. This global movement originated here in Perth back in 2011, with 40 participants. Since then it has grown to 325 million participants worldwide (in 2020) who each reduced their annual waste by 21kg, and collectively avoided 900 million kgs of plastic waste. We chatted to Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, the founder of this amazing movement, to find out how it all began.

What was the motivation behind Plastic Free July?

A day in June 2011 changed everything when I visited a recycling centre here in Perth. It was shocking to see not only my waste but the waste of several councils, I knew something needed to change. When I first tried to avoid single-use plastic for a month, I never imagined how Plastic Free July® would grow. 

How did it evolve from there?

 It started when I asked a simple question: ‘I’m going plastic free next month. Who wants to join me?’ The small group of people who said yes and made changes to reduce plastic waste in their own lives started sharing Plastic Free July with their friends, family and colleagues. It has really grown by word of mouth and as citizens, communities and organisations around the world took part, it grew into one of the world’s most successful environmental movements. 

What would you say to those who think their changes can’t make a difference to the bigger picture?

I love the following quote- “Alone we are a drop, but together an ocean!” If everyone made even one change, it makes a huge impact.

What would you say to families who think aiming for a plastic free July is too hard?

Just start with one thing – look at the plastics in your life – start by looking in the bin, in your fridge and pantry. Popular ideas to get started include switching from bottled body wash to a soap bar, or choose to refuse pre-packaged produce, instead of buying carrots / bananas in a bag, buy them loose or try reusable produce bags. If you take small steps, it’s actually easy – by joining the challenge at Plasticfreejuly.org you won’t be alone, there are lots of ideas and resources and together we can make a difference. 

Head to Plastic Free July to find out simple changes your family can make to reduce plastic waste. If you’re ready to take the Plastic Free July challenge, and together we can make a difference and be a part of the solution...

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