Today’s Solutions: June 13, 2024

Up for a challenge that does the world some good? Please welcome Plastic Free July! A global movement where millions around the world say no to single-use plastic for an entire month.

Looking to contribute to a cleaner and healthier planet, millions of people across 177 countries have kicked off the month of July by pledging to cut down on the amount of plastic they use.

The movement started small almost a decade ago in Australia, but last year more than 250 million people pledged to participate. This year, the annual challenge arrives as plastic is making something of a comeback amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Alongside a significant surge in plastic waste from personal protective equipment like masks and gloves, efforts to ban plastic bags in cities across the US have stalled and some grocery stores won’t allow customers to bring their own reusable bag.

While health should be the primary concern during a pandemic, “Caring for the planet doesn’t mean we can’t care for ourselves,” said Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, who founded Plastic Free July in 2011 as a challenge for herself, her family and a few others. “We can do both at the same time.”

Group actions like Plastic Free July can also foster a sense of connectedness. “It makes you feel like you’re doing something good, in line with your values, and that’s good for self-esteem,” Dr. Clayton said. “And it can make you feel more powerful. When it comes to global climate change, a lot of people feel so helpless.”

If you want tips to help cut down, check out this plastic-focused issue from The New York Times, or go to the Plastic Free July website where you can find plenty of resources, too. You might even want to take the plastic-free challenge.

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