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Global movement challenges people to go plastic-free in July

Some options for going plastic-free include refilling reusable water bottles from the tap and switching from plastic wrap to reusable containers.
Plastic bottles of water line shelves.
Posted at 11:53 AM, Jul 05, 2024

Plastic pollution is a global problem that will likely impact future generations.

In an effort to cut down on plastic waste, millions have reportedly joined the Plastic Free July movement. It's an annual challenge that asks people to either go completely "plastic-free" or cut down on their plastic waste during the month.

Considering plastic is just about everywhere, completely cutting it out of your life would be a major feat. The challenge allows people and businesses to share how they are accomplishing their goals — large and small.

Related Story: Addressing the planet's ocean plastics problem

Some simple options include refilling reusable water bottles from the tap, switching from plastic wrap to reusable containers, and opting for paper straws.

Walking Lightly store, a zero-waste refillery in Detroit.
Walking Lightly, a zero-waste refillery in Detroit.

In Detroit, the business Walking Lightly takes the challenge to the next level. It's a "zero-waste" shop year-round, allowing people to bring their own containers to refill household items that are typically sold in plastic bottles.

“We're never able to fully eliminate all plastics from our lives," store founder Tessa Benziger told Scripps News Detroit. "Our goal is to eliminate the single-use plastics and to sort of rethink so that we're reducing and reusing and refilling before recycling.”

Related Story: Plastics are found everywhere, including in your body

According to the U.S. State Department, an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. Noting that most plastics are not biodegradable, the federal agency says microplastics could remain in the environment for centuries.

Plastics also have a direct medical cost. A study from the Journal of the Endocrine Society estimated the cost of "plastic-attributable disease burden" at about $250 billion in 2018.