Strides being made against the use of plastic products were derailed by the coronavirus pandemic, with some sources estimating single-use plastic consumption rose 250%-300%, driven by disposable foodware, packaging and personal protective equipment.
“Plastic Free July,” a global campaign supported by organizations such as the Shedd Aquarium, is part of a movement to get the reduction of plastics back on track.
The Plastic Free July website offers a range of ways for people to cut back on plastic use, whether at home, work or events. Sign up for the challenge to receive tips on how to meet a goal of taking small steps or getting to the next level of plastic-free living.
Among the simplest ways to make a dent in plastic pollution: swapping in reusable options for any or all of the worst “offenders” — plastic bags, water bottles, to-go coffee cups and plastic straws.
“As the world reopens and as we continue to heed the advice of scientists, we know that reuse always wins — for people, our planet and our bottom line,” Jaclyn Wegner, director of conservation action at Shedd Aquarium, said in a statement.
The Shedd has long taken a leading role in the fight against plastics, millions of tons of which flood the planet’s oceans annually, endangering aquatic wildlife. The Great Lakes are equally awash in plastics, with 22 million pounds entering the waters every year. The aquarium’s “Let’s Shedd Plastic” initiative is one of numerous ways the institution is attacking the problem.
In addition to its ongoing advocacy, the Shedd is hosting a number of special events during Plastic Free July aimed at educating people about plastic pollution and promoting action. Weekly webinars will tackle topics including the benefits of reusables, how composting can reduce dependence on plastics, what restaurants can do to eliminate plastic waste (U.S. restaurants and food service businesses create 1 trillion pieces of disposable foodware and packaging annually) and policy changes for a plastic-free future.