The Plastic Four is a “Plastic-Free July” campaign from Green Initiatives. Our goal is for the community to experience first-hand how much unneeded plastic is being used on a day-to-day basis. By refusing these four plastics – coffee cups, straws, bottles, and plastic bags – we can create healthier, eco-friendlier habits and move towards reusable containers.
Be Plastic Free!
** Read our latest blog post on the Plastic Four campaign at this link **
Plastic products last an incredibly long time. Make no mistake – that’s beneficial for certain medical equipment and some other items. Unfortunately, single-use plastic product items are thrown away in huge quantities every day, ending up in landfills, soil, fresh water sources and oceans. Regardless of where it ends up, all plastic is eventually broken down into smaller micro-plastic that can be found nearly everywhere, including our bodies.
These micro-plastics (plastics that are smaller than 5 mm) are inherently toxic. What’s worse is they can absorb and carry other harmful substances. In China, for example, these micro-plastics have even been found in products as common as table salt and seafood, posing a great risk to human health in large doses. With seafood being such a prevalent food source in China, this is a serious issue we need to face head on.
Between 2004 and 2014, global plastic production increased by over 38 percent. Unsurprisingly, this led to increases in both plastic consumption and plastic pollution. Products like the plastic four – plastic cups, plastic bags, plastic bottles, and straws – are used once and often left un-recycled, continuously adding to the pollution.
In 2010, between 4.8 million and 12.7 million tons of plastic were released into the ocean and has since shown up in the stomachs of whales, plankton and other marine life. In 2017, this statistic continues to rise.
Sadly, scientists predict that there may be more tons of plastic in the ocean than tons of fish by the year 2050.
This effect is not merely cosmetic. According to The Independent, “Scientists fear that chemicals in plastics and also chemicals which attach themselves to plastic in the natural environment could cause poisoning, infertility and genetic disruption in marine life, and potentially in humans if ingested in high quantities.”
Plastic-Free July brings to light how much non-reusable plastic we are using in our everyday lives. These simple lifestyle changes of refusing these four plastics – plastic cups, straws, plastic bags, and bottles – can help keep harmful substances out of our environment.
Straws are a large part of the disposable plastic pollution that harms marine life. These small objects are easily ingested by sea animals and cause a lot of harm to endangered species like the certain sea turtles. Straws can also contain a chemical called BPA and therefor can not be recycled. This makes it almost certain that these products will end up in landfills and our oceans.
Endangered sea turtle mistake plastic straws for food
In the United States alone, people use around 500 million straws each day! That’s enough straws to wrap around the circumference of the earth 2.5 times!
Instead of using plastic straws, you can use reusable stainless steel straws instead and create a long lasting habit of reusable straws. Or just go straw less all together!
Just like reusable straws, plastic bags can also be swapped for reusable canvas ones. Plastic bags used for shopping or collecting trash in the bin take 300 years to break down into the tiny plastic particles. 500 billion plastic bags are used globally each year! That’s 1 million bags being used every single minute. A lot of these plastic bags do not make it to the recycling plants but become accidental litter instead.
Plastic bags can easily become accidental litter.
Plastic bags also require many natural resources in order to be made. “Plastic bags are made from fossil fuels, and it requires 2.2 billion pounds of fossil fuel and 3.9 billion gallons of fresh water to produce the 100 billion plastic bags the US consumes each year. “
Instead of using plastic bags, swap them out for a canvas bag or biodegradable bags for the bins.
Although coffee cups may not seem to be plastic, these disposables are lined with plastic in order to insulate and keep hot beverages warm. The tops of the lids are also plastic. Like in our previous campaign, KeepItCup, we are still encouraging people to swap these pesky hidden plastics for reusable coffee cups (that are far more insulating anyways!)
Buying one disposable cup of coffee each day creates about 23 pounds of waste in one whole year!
Instead of using the disposable cups, bring a reusable one with you to work and enjoy warm drinks for a much longer time without the guilt.
Plastic bottles are the trickiest plastic to give up as they bring us safe portable drinking water. However out of every 6 bottles we use, only 1 gets properly recycled. They also use up large amount of crude oil. The production of plastic bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil each year!
If you could imagine a water bottle filled up one-third with crude oil, that would be the amount of oil necessary to make that one water bottle.
Plastic bottles littering the beach will later break down into micro plastics.
Instead of using these disposable plastic bottles, swap them for a reusable water jug or portable water bottle.
It is also important to educate others on the harmful effects of plastic, spreading the word to foster community-level change. We aim to turn awareness into action within the community that lasts much longer than just the month of July. However, Plastic-Free July is where we begin.
- Encourage people to go plastic-free for the next one month, on the above 4 plastics.
- Gather 500 pledges in one month to refuse the four (or as many as possible) plastic waste categories to show how we can collectively make a difference.
- Instil other healthy, eco-friendly habits in the community with the start of a plastic-free July.
- Extend the 'plastic four' practice into our longer term lives.
If 500 people pledge to refuse all four plastic waste categories for the next one month, we will save:
- 24,250 straws
- 17,500 plastic bags
- 5,375 plastic bottles
- 20,750 plastic cups
How to Participate
- Pledge to 'Go Plastic Free' and refuse the plastic four using this link or scan the QR code
- Share with friends and family to others involved.
- Get the restaurant in your neighborhood to stop serving straws. Ask them to become our campaign partners and tell their customers why they are doing it.
- Add PlasticFour to your social network and share your photos / insights
- Join the PlasticFour WeChat discussion group, become a Campaign Ambassador, and share this action to your circle of friends!
- Instagram: follow us on 'Green_Initatives' and post your reusable conatiner photos with #PlasticFour
- Facebook: Follow us and attach the tag #PlasticFour
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We hope that each campaign can serve as a starting point to create change, to inspire the community to change contribute to making our planet greener, which many often believe can only be brought about by corporate and government intervention.