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Plastic Free July in the DMV

Plastic Free July is an annual movement that raises awareness about minimizing an individual’s plastic footprint. It is a cause near and dear to our hearts at Surfrider. 

What is it? 

Founded in 2011, every July individuals are encouraged to attempt a month of a plastic free lifestyle which includes refusing single use plastics when the opportunity presents itself. 

Why does it matter? 

“Turning off the plastic tap” is an idea that’s been around for a while because, as individuals, if we are able to "turn off" our plastic usage this will better the health of our environment! The idea has gained even more publicity with Benjamin Wong’s 30-foot art installation which pushed the plastic pollution crisis front and center and overall created awareness.

Clean-ups are extremely impactful. Improved plastic waste management can reduce the amount of plastic pollution that ends up in our oceans and waterways, but what if we could just target the problem at the source? Let’s take action to reduce the amount of plastic that is used (and then potentially littered) in the first place!

Our favorite plastic free tips 

How can we, as individuals, reduce the amount of plastic we use? The internet is overflowing with ideas such as these suggested in My Plastic Free Life and Plastic Free July. Below is a list of some of our favorite tips:

  • Bring a reusable cup for your coffee. Compass Coffee and Pitango are super reusable-friendly! If you forget your reusable cup and have to get a plastic cup for your iced coffee, try to skip the lid and straw. 
  • Refuse plastic silverware and condiments when ordering to go. For DC residents, this should be easy! DC restaurants are prohibited from giving out disposable food service items by default. That means they should be asking if you would like them first. Plus, all of these Ocean Friendly Restaurants (OFRs) should be doing the same. 
  • Skip the straw. The Surfrider team has supported this idea for quite some time. If you do need a straw, consider using a paper straw or bringing one of your own (like this one or this one). Likewise, by eating at a local OFR you know that they’ll only provide paper straws upon request!
  • Buy from the bulk section. Avoid unnecessary packaging by bringing your own containers or filling paper bags with your pantry staples. A few of our favorite local spots to refill include: Mason & Greens in Alexandria (and DC, soon!), Trace in Vienna, and Mom’s Market which has locations all over the DMV.   

Our team here at Surfrider loves that Plastic Free July raises awareness about these ideas! We hope that you’ll be inspired to adopt them year-round!