A LONG TIME AGO, well eleven years, IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY, down under in Australia, A WOMAN SAW A PROBLEM AND STARTED A REBELLION, or a challenge - semantics.
You’ve heard of the Plastic Free July Challenge? Yeah? Then maybe you’ve heard of Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, Founder and Executive Director of the Plastic Free Foundation, a nonprofit organization that organizes the annual challenge, has more than twenty-five years’ experience in the world of environmental and waste management, community engagement, and kicking butts into sustainability behavior change. My kinda girl.
What started as a grassroots campaign in 2011 with a handful of participants in Western Australia has exploded into 250 million people in over 190 countries taking up the challenge to refuse single-use plastic every year. So this is about millions of regular people, like YOU, taking baby steps to reduce landfill waste and plastic pollution. Remember our mantra of “progress not perfection?” Like that, but starting with a single month commitment.
This isn’t about drastic lifestyle change; it’s about being smarter about the single-use plastics that are offered to you everyday and taking steps to reduce them. We’re talking simple swaps like declining a straw, bringing your own shopping bags, or avoiding plastic wrap when you buy your vegetables. The majority of challenge participants started by choosing to refuse at least one single-use plastic but “nine out of ten ended up creating long-term habits that lasted far beyond the challenge itself,” said Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, “Whilst Plastic Free July is a personal challenge, participants are part of a global effort to create cleaner streets, oceans, and a cleaner, healthier planet. We can all be part of the solution.” Damn skippy!
We should all have the message by now that eliminating waste is significantly more energy efficient than letting the stuff pile up in a landfill or trying to somehow collect it out of the environment. In 2019, 87% of participants who switched from plastic wrap to reusable food containers resulted in nearly 40% less plastic food wrap use than people not in the challenge. It was estimated that each participant’s household reduced their waste and recycling by an average of 5% or over 50 pounds! That is some progress right there.
This is exactly what Amanda and Alberto envisioned when they started Me Mother Earth. This lil’ company started with a reusable straw. It started with the idea that we could start making progress and building a community of people who want to preserve our beautiful planet for future generations. Believe it or not, there are more of us than you know. We have the power to make a real impact without becoming an off-grid hippie with a garden (not that there’s anything wrong with that and it’s actually my fantasy life.)
Take the Challenge. Change one simple thing that you do unconsciously. One thing - for a month. I triple dog dare you.