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Our plastic planet

While not a celebration, Plastic Free July provides an opportunity to focus on the plastic crisis, and what we might do about it.

Once heralded as a miracle innovation, plastic was peddled as a safe and versatile material that is now a part of literally everything we touch and much of what we consume from birth to adulthood.

While the history of plastic reveals the benefits of plastic, today the production, proliferation, persistence, and disposability of single-use plastics is a serious environmental issue.

Plastic poisons our air and water. Once discarded, plastic clogs rivers and oceans, harms wildlife, infiltrates drinking water (and our bodies), and persists in the environment for centuries.

As we learn more and more about the plastic pollution problem, we are compelled by a growing urgency to find solutions.

Interested in what you can do? Read on.

Social Media 

Join OPS all month long to learn about plastic, why it is a problem, and what you can do about it.

New content will be shared weekly on OPS Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok channels! Thanks to our collaboration with Conservationist Collective, we will bring you important information and engaging content on the plastic crisis, and what you can about it. 

Not on social media?  Not to worry.  You can find the weekly Plastic Free July videos on the OPS YouTube channel. 

Industry Action

OPS and allies are calling on Congress to regulate PFAS (forever chemicals) that continue to contaminate our drinking water and food.

The per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals commonly used in plastics production because fluoropolymer coatings and products resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water.

PFAs are popular in plastic food packaging because these chemicals create an effective barrier that prevents flavorings and fragrances from slowly leaching from of containers and protects containers from cracking or degrading.

These “forever chemicals” can take thousands of years to degrade in nature, and contaminate our drinking water, food, and soil.

These toxic chemicals have been linked to high blood pressure, cancer and harm to reproductive and immune systems.

As if the physical harm of macro and microplastics is not enough—literally choking marine life and finding their ways into our bodies—the chemical components of plastic directly threaten our health.

*What you can do!

Sign the petition asking Congress to regulate PFAS and hold polluting companies responsible.

Direct Action

Join activists across the country to collect data on plastic pollution in U.S. National Parks. This July, and all through the summer, we are joining our allies at 5 Gyres for a Trash Blitz as part of the Plastic-Free Parks and Break Free From Plastic coalitions to continue our focus on keeping our National Parks plastic-free.

Our national parks are our most treasured outdoor spaces. Plastic has been found across every coastline in the world and on top of the world’s tallest mountains, and it’s designed to last forever.

Together, we are mobilizing volunteers around the country to document plastic pollution at U.S. National Parks using the 5-Gyres TrashBlitz research platform.

The data you collect will contribute to a report that will reveal the materials, items, and brands of waste found in national parks.

These results can support legislation that keeps harmful single-use plastic out of our protected spaces, like the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act and the Department of the Interior’s plan to phase-out single-use plastic on federal lands. It can also help us identify corporate targets for our outreach.

All participants will also be entered to win an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass and two tickets to Jack Johnson’s All at Once concert in Los Angeles on October 1.

Upon registration, you will receive an email with instructions on how to use the TrashBlitz research platform.

*What you can do!

Head to any national park from July through September, do a cleanup, and submit your data. It’s that easy!  Click here to get started!

Learn more about Trashblitz here.

You can find your national parks through this link here.

Congressional Action

The United Nations recently approved a landmark agreement to create the world’s first ever global plastic pollution treaty—now we need solutions here at home to help our climate and communities recover.

Break Free From Plastics Pollution Act.  Nearly 40% of the plastic produced annually is for single-use plastics and packaging—materials that are made to last forever but designed to be used briefly and thrown away.

Plastic production is projected to quadruple between 2014 and 2050, greatly compounding the problem since a meager nine percent of all the plastic waste ever generated has been recycled.

The comprehensive federal legislation would begin to phase out certain throwaway plastics made from fossil fuels, hold the plastic industry responsible for its waste, and pause construction on any new plastic-making plants.

Reducing waste in National Parks Act. This bill would establish a national plan to eliminate the sale and distribution of single-use plastic beverage bottles, bags, foodware — including cups, plates, bowls, and utensils — and foam products inside national parks.

By reducing the amount of single-use plastic items sold and distributed within national parks, we will protect wildlife, keep parks clean and pristine, and alleviate the unnecessary burden of waste management on National Park Service staff and resources.

*What you can do!

Contact your congressmember to ask that they support the Break Free From Plastics Pollution Act!

Sign the petition now to tell your member of Congress to make our national parks plastic-free spaces and protect our most beloved public lands, waterways, wildlife, and oceans.

Executive Action

Plastic production fuels the climate crisis and damages local communities with toxic air and water pollution. Why? Because plastic is made of oil.

The fossil fuel industry plans to increase plastic production by 40% over the next decade and plans to build polluting plants in frontline communities.

Several weeks ago, the Biden Administration followed through on our collective demands to use the Defense Production Act to boost renewable energy manufacturing under the guidance of workers, environmental justice communities, and other impacted people—which means executive powers can be used to also address the plastics crisis.

General Services Administration. OPS joined allies to petition the U.S. government to stop buying single-use plastic products. The federal government is the single-largest consumer of goods and services in the world, and President Biden’s executive orders have highlighted the need for federal purchases to prioritize reusable products.

The petition calls on the General Services Administration, the federal government’s procurement arm, to address the plastic pollution crisis by revising its regulations to prohibit the acquisition of disposable, single-use plastic products, with exemptions for disability accommodations, medical use and personal protective equipment.

Presidential Plastics Action Plan. OPS joined over 600 organizations to endorse the Presidential Plastics Action Plan which outlines eight bold actions the president can take — on his own, using executive authority. 

The plan calls for the President to advance environmental justice in petrochemical corridors, make corporate polluters pay, deny new permits for plastic production facilities, reduce discarded fishing gear, and a host of other important actions that will make a real difference to our health, and the future of our planet.

*What you can do!

Sign the petition to the GSA, calling on the US Government to stop purchasing single-use plastics.

Sign the #PlasticFreePresident petition demanding bold action on plastics.

Personal Responsibility

While corporations should shoulder much of the responsibility for the systemic change needed to break our global plastic addiction and create a true circular economy, and researchers and scientists must work to innovate in the biomaterials space, there is no denying that we can all take personal responsibility to reduce and eliminate single-use plastics and live a more plastic-free lifestyle.

Do you remember our #Hydratelike campaign launched in collaboration with LonelyWhale? Well, we are bringing it back, because it has never been simpler to ditch the water bottle and carry your own hydration flask to hydrate at home and on the go.

*What you can do!

#hydratelikelouie! Here’s how.

See other plastic swap-outs at Plastic Free July Headquarters, and while you’re at it, check out how others are saying ‘goodbye’ to single-use plastics!

Get inspired! We CAN do this, together.

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