In July 2011, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz challenged herself to go plastic-free for the whole month. Starting with a small group of people in the city of Perth, the Plastic Free July movement has grown into a 250-million strong community across 177 countries, empowering people to reduce single-use plastic consumption and create a cleaner future.
This book explores how one of the world’s leading environmental campaigns took off and shares lessons from its success. From narrating marine-debris research expeditions to tracking what actually happens to our waste to sharing insights from behavioural research, it speaks to the massive scale of the plastic waste problem and how we can tackle it together. Interweaving interviews from participants, activists, and experts, Plastic Free tells the inspiring story of how ordinary people have created change in their homes, communities, workplaces, schools, businesses, and beyond.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed in the face of global environmental problems and wonder what difference our own actions could possibly make. Plastic Free offers hope for the future through the stories of those who have taken on what looked like an insurmountable challenge and succeeded in innovative and practical ways, one step – and one piece of plastic – at a time.
1. The Day the Penny Dropped
2. The Challenge Begins
3. The Story of Throwaway Living
4. Tackling the Top 4
5. Plastic Sea
6. Try to Do Better
7. It’s All About the Sharing
8. Momentum Builds and the Movement Grows
9. We’re All in This Together
10. Life Beyond Plastic
Rebecca Prince-Ruiz is the founder of Plastic Free July. An experienced environmental management and sustainability professional, she speaks internationally about how to achieve a world without plastic waste.
Joanna Atherfold Finn is the author of the short story collection Watermark (2018). She is a freelance journalist and has taught at the University of Newcastle.
"Plastic Free shows how one person’s actions can ripple out and cause good around the globe. Never has there been a more important time to share hope and action and combine them for our Mother Earth."
– Melissa Joan Hart, actress
"Plastic Free July inspires me to step up my commitment to reducing single-use plastic in my daily life and on tour."
– Jack Johnson, musician and Plastic Free Foundation ambassador
"Plastic Free shows us how to organize around our innate desire for a beautiful, clean environment and eventually change, in a fundamental way, the system that unnecessarily creates the ugly mess."
– Captain Charles Moore, veteran seafarer and author of Plastic Ocean
"Some people feel overwhelmed by the environmental state of affairs and wait for politicians or manufacturers to change; others, like Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, take matters into their own hands, starting with their own lives. This is the success story of a global movement. It proves that change is in consumers’ hands, that individual action has more power than ever. Use this book to be inspired, or, better, use it as a template to change the world in your own way!"
– Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
"The more time I spend at sea, the more I realize that the solutions start on land. This book will guide you on that journey to making global change for the ocean from your doorstep."
– Emily Penn, ocean advocate, skipper, and cofounder of eXXpedition
"Not just an inspiring story and a practical resource, this is evidence that grassroots actions by ordinary individuals and communities can make a material difference to the most wicked of environmental and social problems. Hats off."
– Tim Winton, author
"Few people have spent as much time as Rebecca Prince-Ruiz trying to work out how to minimize the plastic in our lives."
– Craig Reucassel, comedian and presenter of War on Waste
"Passionate call to action. ['Plastic Free' is] a comprehensive guidebook to anti-plastic activism. Sage advice for reducing plastic consumption, a necessity for our survival. Our verdict: Get it."
"Motivating. 'Plastic Free July' founder [Rebecca] Prince-Ruiz tells the story of how she started an environmental movement and offers solutions for decreasing waste in this accessible account. Readers eager to reduce their plastic consumption would do well to pick up this excellent primer."
– Publishers Weekly
"Plastic Free is the remarkable story of how a social media post from an isolated corner of Western Australia grew into a global network of 250m activists. The 'accidental campaign' has since grown into an influential environmental movement."
– Foreword Reviews