Why Plastic Free July?

Plastic Free July was initiated by the Plastic Free Foundation in 2011 to “build a global movement that dramatically reduces plastic use and improves recycling” and “raise awareness of our growing plastic waste problem and support behavior change by helping people avoid single-use plastic.” The NEC invites you to take the pledge to reduce your plastic waste for the month of July and hopefully carry new, reuseable habits into your daily life on an ongoing basis.

As of 2015, an estimated 9.1 billion (U.S.) tons of plastic had been produced since the 1950s, which is the equivalent weight of 45.5 million blue whales, or 227.5 million loaded 18-wheeler trucks. To help visualize the scale, if those 227.5 million trucks were lined up end-to-end, they would wrap around the earth nearly 130 times. That’s a lot of plastic!

It’s estimated that less than nine percent of that 9.1 billion tons has ever been recycled. Eighteen billion pounds of plastic waste flow into our oceans every year, breaking down into micropastics that are then consumed by sea life. Plastic particles have been found in the deepest parts of the oceans, the highest mountain ranges, and in our own bodies.

Still, plastic production continues to increase exponentially. Recent numbers indicate that a million single-use plastic bottles are purchased around the world every minute, and this number is expected to increase to half a trillion by 2021.

So where do we start? We have begun a social media campaign to raise awareness for alternatives to single-use plastics to help ease you into more sustainable consumer habits. Follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/yournec) and Instagram (@your_nec) for tips and to stay updated on our Plastic Free July Campaign, as part of our zero waste, plastic-free education campaign leading up to our first ever Zero Waste Coastal Cleanup Day! Read more about this effort on page 10.

To learn more about ways to reduce your plastic use, visit plasticfreejuly.org and plasticpollutioncoalition.org, Zero Waste Humboldt (www.zerowastehumboldt.org), or contact Casey at the NEC at casey@yournec.org or 707-822-6918.