Skip the Plastic on May 25 for International Plastic Free Day

Free the Ocean's campaign urges people not to use single-use plastic for a day.

plastic drink cups
The kind of cups you won't be using on International Plastic Free Day.

Getty Images/Lisa Müller

Skipping single-use plastic always feels good, but it can feel extra good when you do it as part of a larger group, knowing that small individual efforts are adding up to make a big difference. Next week, on May 25, you too can be part of something bigger. The first-ever International Plastic Free Day will take place, organized by Free the Ocean (FTO), in an effort to call attention to the global problem of plastic pollution.

As explained on the website, "If every person in the world stopped using one single-use piece of plastic for one day, we’d avoid over 7.6 BILLION items of plastic on that single day." 

Participants are encouraged to sign up online, pledging their commitment to the challenge, and spread the word by sharing with family and friends through social media. After all, the more people who do it, the bigger the impact will be—and perhaps if a person sees how manageable it is for just one day, they might be inclined to keep going, eliminating single-use plastic from their life entirely. 

Mimi Ausland, FTO's co-founder, tells Treehugger: "Free the Ocean is excited to introduce International Plastic Free Day to call attention to the plastic we use day-to-day, especially single-use plastic. On May 25th, avoid single-use plastic for one day! Don’t buy it, refuse it, don’t use it. We hope this day opens our eyes to how much plastic we use every day. If we understand this, we can consume more consciously moving forward." 

The FTO site explains that 380 million tons of plastic are produced annually, half of which is for single-use purposes—meaning it gets discarded after its one intended use. These are items like grocery bags, beverage bottles and cups, cling wrap, disposable coffee cups, food packaging, and more. 

Because recycling is difficult, inaccessible, and unprofitable, most goes to landfill or enters the natural environment directly. This leads to contamination of wildlife (when they ingest it accidentally) and of waterways. Did you know that 90% of bottled water we drink contains microplastics? Not only that, humans are estimated to consume the equivalent (by weight) of a credit card’s worth of plastic every week!

While a day without single-use plastic may not seem like much, it might just be the personal challenge you need to start your plastic-free journey. Sign up here and do your best. To paraphrase Anne Marie Bonneau, a.k.a. the Zero Waste Chef, "We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste [or in this case, plastic-free] perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly."

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