It’s Plastic Free July – the global movement helping you be a part of the solution to plastic pollution! To kickstart the celebration, let’s start with where plastic came from, why it became so popular, and when plastic pollution became a problem… You’ll see why Plastic Free July is so important, and why we must come together to make a change!

A brief history of plastic:

  • 1869-1900: An early form of plastic was invented in 1869 by John Wesley Hyatt as an alternative for materials like natural ivory, tortoiseshell, and coral.
  • 1901 – 1950: Following the invention of the first fully mass-produced synthetic plastic in 1907 and its successful use during World War II, the production of plastic soared. 
  • 1951 – 1975: Providing endless possibilities for manufacturing, in the 1950s, plastic began to replace traditional materials on the merit that it was lighter, cheaper and more flexible – replacing steel in cars, wood in furniture, paper and glass in packaging. Single-use plastic and disposability was celebrated for its time-saving ability and was lauded as the future.
  •  1976-2020: As early as the 1960s and picking up momentum in the 1980s people began to notice plastic bags accumulating in the ocean. The late 2010s was a key turning point for the world, solidifying action for plastic pollution on the global agenda and the importance of searching for plastic alternatives. 

So where does this leave us?

It’s ironic that plastic was conceived to save natural resources and is now treated as disposable, but plastic isn’t the problem — single-use without recycling is. We can make a change. Treat all material as precious, because at the rate we’re going, we’ll run out of resources sooner than we think.

Plus, plastic our grandparents disposed of to landfill still exists now, and will for lifetimes to come!

That’s why we’ll be focusing on practical ways you can approach Plastic Free July from one of the five Rs – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle – every week of the month! No matter where you are on your plastic journey – whether you’re fully committing to going plastic-free this month, or you’re looking for ways to cut down on single-use plastics and improve your recycling – we’ll give you a few everyday tips to change the way you think about and approach plastic.

Stay tuned for next week, where we’ll be doing a deep-dive into the first of the five Rs – Refuse!

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