Plastic Free July and the Pandemic 

27 July 2020 - by Lucy Noon

Written by Remy Harman, edited by Lucy Noon. 

The Plastic Free July movement was created to reduce plastic waste globally. In 2019 the movement created enough press to reach over 100 million people in readership. With participation reaching 250 million, 825 million kg of plastic waste was saved. 

In 2019 each participant in Plastic Free July reduced their waste and recycling by 23kg. The community has built so rapidly that information, resources and advice is readily available to anyone with a slight inclination to change their plastic habits.

So what does this mean for 2020? 

With the tragedy of Covid-19, the world was able to see the environmental benefits when our daily habits changed. This positive was unfortunately outweighed by an influx of virgin, single-use plastic that was produced to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Now, as quarantine and lockdowns are lifted around the world, Plastic Free July is needed more than ever. Companies are providing consumers with greater sanitary products in the form of single-use plastic, but it’s up to us to choose whether we truly need these things. If a coffee shop is only offering single-use cups to protect their customers, is it a necessity to purchase the item? 

 

 

The Onus on Brands 

In London, it’s reported that on average an adult will purchase 3 water bottles a week, equating to 175 a year. Oil prices have plummeted meaning manufacturers can once again produce single-use plastic at a much lower cost than at the beginning of the year. Companies, therefore, have to decide if environmental ethics are worth more than the financial benefit. 

21st-century brands have a huge reliance on social media. To stay relevant in an ever-evolving market, companies have to watch contemporary trends and change their practices to align with standards consumers are making for them. With a rise in popularity of the movement, companies measure their consumer's vote by following their purchases. In combination with not purchasing plastic and using alternative sources, how can a business not listen? 

 

Purchasing in the Pandemic 

A positive from the pandemic is the rise of consumers buying in bulk and using zero-waste stores. Before July began, people were realising that it wasn’t difficult to purchase items in this way. They reduced the time they spent purchasing, travelling and the plastic they were using. By beginning these changes before the movement’s starting date, many more people were aware of how much easier it would be to complete. 

 Reports showed that 9 out of 10 people sustained plastic-free habits after July 2019. The hope this year is that more people will have had the time to consider their actions on plastic was due to the lockdown measures. With a mass audience forming of individuals and families; start-up businesses, companies and corporations are having to invest resources to reduce their plastic use. Now is the time to make an even bigger impact. With the lockdown showing us that the world needs to breathe, this July should have the biggest effect so far. 

 

About the author

Lucy Noon

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