Plastic Free July - Getting Started

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Plastic Free Blog Plastic Free July - Getting Started

Happy July 1!

If you're new to the plastic free or zero waste life, this is an important date to remember. July 1 is somewhat of a holiday in this world, as it marks the beginning of Plastic Free July.

A Bit of Background

Plastic Free July began just seven years ago by a handful of passionate individuals in Australia looking to make a positive change for the planet. The initiative took off, and last year the challenge included 2 million people in 150 countries.

Just as the name implies, Plastic Free July challenges us to refuse single-use plastics for one month. We've talked before about why recycling isn't the answer, but Plastic Free July gives us the opportunity to really see what we can do and how we can reduce our footprint.


Now let's be real, if someone says to you, “Hey, plastic sucks you should eliminate it all from your life overnight and then keep it up for a whole month,” that's overwhelming and can lead to burnout. When we're trying to live a more sustainable life we need to remember personal sustainability. Start with a few actions conquer them first. Then move on to the next. Actions like refusing straws, bags, and bottles are great starting points.

But what if you've already conquered these plastic-free actions, or are just curious what you could do once you do conquer them?

You're in luck! Calgary Zoo and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have teamed up to host an online EcoChallenge platform for zoos and Aquariums to participate in their own Plastic Free July challenge. While the online challenge is only open to staff and volunteers of the participating zoos and aquariums, the plastic free resources on the site are open to anyone!

Updated 2020: The Plastic Free EcoChallenge is now open to anyone and everyone! And it's better than ever. Join our team and we'll plant 10 trees in your honor, and you'll get at least 5% off in our shop through the end of July.

Plus, sign up for our weekly Make Waves Mondays emails for tips to help you reduce your plastic waste straight to your inbox all month and beyond 💙

A Drop in the Ocean - Plastic Free July

Just some of the impact Plastic Free July participants have had only 18 hours in.


Check out actions in four different categories - Food, Personal Care, Community, and Lifestyle. Each category has a full library of specific actions at varying difficulties - from using a bamboo toothbrush to writing daily letters to companies or government officials or even making your own beauty products.

Not only are there a ton of actions, but almost every action has an associated “Learn More”  button. These buttons may give you background information on the action, a store suggestion for where you can purchase an item, or even a recipe for a DIY project.

So if you're not sure where to begin or what your next plastic free challenge should be, check out Calgary Zoo and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Plastic Free July EcoChallenge. You too can be part of this movement and make a positive impact on our planet.

My Plastic Free July Actions

This month I'm committing to the following actions:

One Time

  • Raise money for a nonprofit. I will raise money to support a nonprofit dedicated to plastic pollution reduction. (Click here to make a donation to The 5 Gyres Institute)
  • Join a cleanup effort. I will host or participate in a beach, highway, river, or other cleanup effort in my community.
  • Advocate for more food packaging options. I will advocate for alternatives to single-use packaging at local grocery stores, markets, or work.
  • Compost pet waste. I will spend 15 minutes learning how to compost pet waste at home or research pet waste composting services available in my area.
  • Natural fibers. When available, I will purchase clothing made with natural fibers, such as cotton, linen, or wool, rather than synthetic fibers.
  • Complete a waste audit. I will conduct a waste audit - including recyclables and compost - to understand how much waste I create and where I can reduce the most.
  • Pearly whites. I will purchase toothpaste in an aluminum tube or in a glass jar or make my own!
  • Tim Taylor your beauty products. I will lessen my plastic impact by making my own makeup.
  • That was a close shave. I will replace my disposable razors with steel razors.
  • Dam the flow. I will use a menstrual cup and or cloth pads.
  • Create your Own - Guppyfriend. I will purchase a Guppyfriend laundry bag to catch microfibers in the wash.


  • Keep my community clean. I will pick up three pieces of letter each day.
  • Write letters or emails. I will write one letter or email per day to a public official or company to advocate for planet-friendly policies.
  • Takeout pro. I will use my own containers when ordering takeout.

Leave a comment below which actions you're going to take this Plastic Free July!

Remember - every action matters, no matter how small.

Individually, we may be a drop, but together we are the ocean.
A Drop in the Ocean - Plastic Free July

Photo 1 |  David Troeger on Unsplash


5 Lessons Learned from Plastic Free July

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