Photo by rePurpose, to show how much plastic is used by one person annually.
Researchers estimate there are now over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean with 8.75 million metric tons being added every year
Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues to date. Single-use plastics seem to be used in nearly everything we buy, making plastic difficult to avoid. However, it is more crucial than ever that we take action to end plastic pollution. Worldwide, 1 trillion plastic bags are discarded every year. Plastics can take hundreds of years to decompose, and as they do, they break into micro-plastics. Micro-plastics make their way up the food chain, harming wildlife and eventually ending up on our plates.
"Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That’s the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world"
Nonprofits Fighting Plastic Pollution
Plastic Free July was started by the Plastic Free Foundation with the goal of encouraging individuals to eliminate their use of single-use plastics. The challenge has inspired people to take action around the globe. The Plastic Free Foundation has been especially impactful in schools, empowering students to step up and advocate for change. 12,756 people who have signed up to take the Plastic Free July challenge indicated they either wanted to take part at school, make changes at school or take the challenge into their school.
To celebrate Plastic Free July, we are featuring nonprofits in our network that are fighting plastic pollution. These nonprofits are taking action by organizing grassroots movement, conducting scientific research, providing resources on eliminating single-use plastics, and advocating for a plastic-free future. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we take action to end plastic pollution.
The Plastic Free Foundation is helping millions of people around the globe take part in limiting their use of plastic. Plastic Free July is a key initiative of the Plastic Free Foundation, challenging people to refuse single-use plastics for the month of July. The movement has inspired 250 million participants in 177 countries hosting events and making changes in their own lives to move toward a plastic free lifestyle.
Zoos Victoria is on a mission to fight extinction to secure a future rich in wildlife in Australia. Last year, the nonprofit recycled six tonnes of bailing twine locally in Geelong that was processed into pellets and other products, and has signed on to participate in the Plastic Free July Challenge.
Plastic Pollution Coalition in Washington D.C. is dedicated to encouraging the refusal of single-use plastics. In honor of Plastic Free July, they are working to raise $10,000 to advance their efforts in helping others become plastic-free and advocating for a world free of plastic pollution.
Based in Australia, Take 3 works to protect the oceans from plastic pollution. Their call to action is to take 3 pieces of trash home every time you go to the beach. They have featured a plastic-free living guide on their website and are dedicated to encouraging communities to take action against plastic pollution. Take 3 has also signed the Plastic Free July Challenge.
City to Sea is running people-powered, community-serving campaigns to tackle plastic pollution. They offer resources on how to limit plastic in everyday life, partner with businesses, and help communities find simple solutions to lessening plastic pollution. Currently, they are offering information and solutions on how to go plastic-free even in the midst of COVID-19. They are also encouraging others to take the Plastic Free July challenge, and have signed on themselves.
The Story of Stuff Project is based out of California, and provides video content and other resources on the impact of plastic on the planet and how to live a plastic-free lifestyle. The nonprofit has signed onto the Plastic Free July Challenge and encourages others to do the same. Through education and outreach, the Story of Stuff Project aims to change the story of plastic and its role in our lives.
Launched in 2009, 1 Million Women is now a movement of over 950,000+ women and girls working toward solutions to the climate crisis. The nonprofit recognizes the need for a lifestyle revolution in order to truly address the most pressing issues facing our planet. They have signed the Plastic Free July Challenge, and continue to work to grow their network in order to reach more changemakers willing to take action.
Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN) is taking Plastic Free July to the college campus through a virtual course that students and professors can sign up for. The course provides a toolkit on how to jumpstart a plastic-free campaign on your campus, and provides background on the plastic crisis and our pivotal role in solving it.
Plastic Change a Danish environmental organization working to reduce plastic consumption and put a stop to the single-use cycle. The nonprofit provides tips and resources on how to tackle the plastic crisis in your own backyard, and are participating in Plastic Free July.
Clean Water Fund is developing grassroots movements to secure safe water and clean up water pollution in hundreds of communities. For Plastic Free July, the nonprofit is advocating for reusable products and encouraging citizens to call their representatives and call for them to hold the plastic industry accountable.
Social Plastic Recycling Foundation supports the work of Plastic Bank to combat plastic pollution by empowering coastal communities to take action. To do this, Plastic Bank builds ethical recycling systems on the coast and reprocess the materials to be reintroduced into the manufacturing system. Collectors are compensated for their work, and the nonprofit is committed to transparency and traceability throughout the process.
Plastic Oceans is promoting a global movement to rethink plastic and address the impacts that plastic has on our planet. The nonprofit creates films, runs educational programs, inspires and empowers changemakers through campaigns, and much more. For Plastic Free July, Plastic Oceans created an infographic sharing 9 actionable tips on how to reduce plastic consumption.
5 Gyres is conducting research on global plastic pollution. Amongst the first to research the impact of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, 50,000 miles of ocean have been explored on 17 annual research trips. In addition to significant scientific contributions, the founders of 5 Gyres are also founding members of the Plastic Pollution Coalition. 5 Gyres is also a member of Break Free From Plastic, an international movement uniting nonprofits to fight plastic pollution with a focus on social and environmental justice.
Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to protecting 100% of the world’s coastlines by advocating for political action, scientific advancements, and grassroots action. The nonprofit recognizes that to stop ocean pollution, we must start at the source. This is why they created their Ocean Friendly Restaurants Program. This program encourages restaurants located on the coast to step up and commit to reducing their impact by cutting out single-use plastics, conserving water, becoming energy efficient, and committing to sustainable sourcing.
EXXpedition is creating teams of driven women to go on sailing expeditions and study the impact of microplastics while removing them from the water. Since 2014, eXXpedition has taken 175 women from 36 nationalities to sea. They are scientists, teachers, engineers, filmmakers, CEOs, policymakers, psychologists and more. Founder of Expedition, Emily Penn, believes that we all have a role in solving the plastic pollution issue and that micro-actions will build up and create the significant change needed to reduce plastics in our oceans.
Lonely Whale is using courageous ideas and community empowerment to drive change that is protecting our oceans. The nonprofit engages businesses and individuals in taking innovative action to solve the plastic pollution crisis. Part of the Lonely Whale mission is education, and empowering youth to speak out against ocean pollution. As part of their commitment to education, Lonely Whale runs the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, a program helping youth leaders start environmental campaigns in their own communities.
Launched in 2019, Beyond Plastics is an innovative young project based at Bennington College in
Vermont. Its mission is to end the global crisis of plastic pollution by being a catalyst for action on
policies that reduce plastic production and use, promote alternatives, and require companies to take responsibility for their waste. Beyond Plastics’ strategy is to educate the public, media, and policymakers, advocate for policies that create real reductions in plastic pollution, and organize to get strong plastic reduction policies adopted.