Blog Post

Plastic Free July: Nonprofits Dedicated to Reducing Plastic Waste

Published June 23, 2023 | by Groundswell | 11 mins read
Plastic Free July nonprofits_two young people participating in beach clean up

This month is Plastic Free July, a global movement that began in 2011.

The event invites individuals and communities worldwide to take part in a challenge: to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics and make more sustainable choices throughout the month of July.

By participating in Plastic Free July, you are joining millions of people who are committed to creating a cleaner, healthier planet by tackling the pervasive issue of plastic pollution. This is an opportunity to raise awareness, inspire change, and discover creative alternatives to single-use plastics.

As part of the effort to reduce plastic waste, here is a list of nonprofits at the forefront of combatting the problems with the use of plastic.

Alliance to End Plastic Waste

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is a non-profit organization launched in January 2019 to eliminate plastic waste and promote a circular economy for plastics. It is a global alliance of nearly 50 member companies across the plastics value chain, including chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, and waste management companies.

The alliance recognizes plastic waste as a pressing environmental issue requiring various stakeholders’ collaborative action. Its members are committed to investing in and implementing solutions to help end plastic waste, particularly in the areas where it is most prevalent, such as in developing countries where waste management infrastructure may be lacking.

The alliance focuses on four strategic areas:

  1. Infrastructure: The alliance aims to support the development of waste management systems and infrastructure in regions that are heavily affected by plastic waste. This includes promoting the collection, recycling, and proper disposal of plastic waste.
  2. Innovation: The alliance seeks to facilitate the development of new technologies, business models, and materials that can help reduce plastic waste and enable the transition to a circular economy. This involves supporting research and development efforts and promoting collaboration among members and external partners.
  3. Education and Engagement: The alliance recognizes the importance of raising awareness and changing behaviors to address the plastic waste issue. It supports educational initiatives and engages with governments, communities, and other stakeholders to promote responsible plastic use and waste management practices.
  4. Clean-up: The alliance is committed to supporting and participating in projects and initiatives that aim to remove plastic waste from the environment. This includes beach clean-ups, river clean-ups, and other activities aimed at reducing the amount of plastic waste that ends up in oceans and waterways.

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste has committed over $1.5 billion to its mission over a period of five years (2019-2023). It collaborates with governments, NGOs, and other organizations to maximize its impact and drive systemic change in how plastics are used and managed worldwide.

The Story of Stuff Project

The Story of Stuff Project is a nonprofit organization based in the United States that aims to raise awareness and inspire action on consumption, sustainability, and social and environmental justice issues. The organization was founded by Annie Leonard in 2007, following the success of her viral online video called “The Story of Stuff,” which explored the lifecycle of material goods and their impact on the planet.

The Story of Stuff Project uses storytelling, multimedia, and educational resources to engage and inform people about the environmental and social impacts of our consumption patterns. They believe that understanding the interconnectedness of systems, such as production, consumption, and waste, is crucial for creating a more sustainable and just society.

The organization focuses on various thematic areas, including:

  1. Consumerism: The Story of Stuff Project examines the negative consequences of excessive consumerism, such as overconsumption, waste generation, and depletion of natural resources. They encourage individuals to rethink their consumption habits and make more sustainable choices.
  2. Plastics and Pollution: The organization addresses the issue of plastic pollution and its impact on the environment and human health. They advocate for reducing single-use plastics, promoting recycling and waste management practices, and supporting policies prioritizing environmental sustainability.
  3. Climate Change: The Story of Stuff Project highlights the connection between our consumption patterns and climate change. They aim to educate people about the carbon footprint of different products and advocate for systemic changes that prioritize renewable energy and sustainable practices.
  4. Social and Environmental Justice: The organization emphasizes the importance of social and environmental justice in achieving a sustainable future. They explore issues such as fair trade, workers’ rights, environmental racism, and the impacts of extractive industries on marginalized communities.

The Story of Stuff Project provides educational materials, including videos, lesson plans, and guides for free on their website. They also engage in advocacy efforts, collaborate with other organizations, and promote grassroots initiatives that align with their mission.

Plastic Oceans International

Plastic Oceans International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans and working towards finding solutions to address this global problem.

The organization was founded in 2009 by Jo Ruxton and Craig Leeson, following the production of their award-winning documentary film, “A Plastic Ocean.”

Plastic Oceans International focuses on the following key areas:

  1. Education and Advocacy: The organization aims to educate individuals, communities, and decision-makers about the impact of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems and human health. They engage in advocacy efforts to promote policy changes and initiatives that reduce plastic waste and promote sustainable practices.
  2. Scientific Research: Plastic Oceans International supports and conducts scientific research to better understand the extent and consequences of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. They collaborate with scientists, universities, and research institutions to gather data and provide evidence-based solutions.
  3. Film and Media: Building on their documentary film, Plastic Oceans International uses film and media as powerful tools to raise awareness and inspire action. They produce films, documentaries, and short videos that highlight the issue of plastic pollution and its impact on marine life and ecosystems.
  4. Youth Engagement: The organization recognizes the importance of involving and empowering young people in the fight against plastic pollution. They develop educational programs and initiatives that engage students and youth organizations to create awareness, inspire behavioral change, and foster future environmental leaders.
  5. Corporate Engagement: Plastic Oceans International works with businesses and corporations to promote sustainable practices, reduce plastic waste in their operations, and support the development of innovative solutions. They collaborate with companies to raise awareness and develop sustainable business models that minimize plastic pollution.

Through its various initiatives and partnerships, Plastic Oceans International seeks to inspire individuals, organizations, and governments to take action and implement long-term solutions to reduce and ultimately eliminate plastic pollution.

Ocean Blue Project

The Ocean Blue Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the health of the world’s oceans and waterways.

Founded in 2012 by Richard and Shelly Timeus, the organization is based in the United States and operates globally.

The Ocean Blue Project focuses on several key areas:

  1. Beach and River Cleanup: The organization organizes and leads beach and river cleanup events to remove trash and debris from coastal areas and waterways. They engage volunteers in these cleanup efforts, raising awareness about the impact of marine pollution and promoting responsible waste management practices.
  2. Ecological Restoration: The Ocean Blue Project implements projects to restore and rehabilitate coastal ecosystems, such as dunes, wetlands, and estuaries. By undertaking habitat restoration initiatives, they aim to improve the health and resilience of marine ecosystems and promote biodiversity.
  3. Water Quality Monitoring: The organization conducts water quality testing and monitoring programs to assess various water bodies’ health and pollution levels. This data helps identify areas of concern and supports advocacy efforts for improved water quality standards and pollution prevention.
  4. Education and Outreach: The Ocean Blue Project strongly emphasizes education and community outreach. They develop educational programs, workshops, and presentations to raise awareness about the importance of ocean conservation and sustainable practices. They also collaborate with schools and community organizations to engage and inspire future generations to become ocean stewards.
  5. Research and Innovation: The organization supports initiatives to understand and address ocean health challenges. They collaborate with scientists and researchers to develop innovative solutions and technologies that promote conservation and restoration efforts.

The Ocean Blue Project relies on volunteers, partnerships, and donations to accomplish its mission. They encourage individuals and communities to get involved through volunteering, participating in cleanup events, and supporting their initiatives.

The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup is a nonprofit organization founded in 2013 by Dutch inventor and entrepreneur Boyan Slat. The organization aims to develop advanced technologies to remove plastic pollution from the world’s oceans.

The Ocean Cleanup focuses on the following key areas:

  1. System Development: The organization designs and develops systems and technologies to remove ocean plastic waste. Their flagship project, “System 001,” also known as “The Interceptor,” is an autonomous floating device that uses the ocean’s natural currents to collect and concentrate plastic debris for extraction.
  2. Research and Development: The Ocean Cleanup invests in research and development efforts to continually improve its systems and technologies. They collaborate with scientists, engineers, and oceanographers to better understand the dynamics of plastic pollution and develop innovative solutions.
  3. Deployment and Cleanup Operations: The organization conducts deployment and cleanup operations in areas heavily affected by plastic pollution. They target oceanic gyres, where plastic debris accumulates due to ocean currents. By strategically deploying their systems, they aim to intercept and remove large amounts of plastic waste.
  4. Recycling and Sustainability: The Ocean Cleanup recognizes the importance of recycling and sustainable waste management practices. They explore ways to efficiently process and recycle the collected plastic waste to prevent it from re-entering the ocean. They also advocate for sustainable practices, raise awareness about the need to reduce single-use plastics and promote a circular economy.

The Ocean Cleanup’s work has gained significant attention and support globally. They rely on a combination of private donations, corporate sponsorships, and partnerships to fund their operations and research efforts. They aim to clean up existing plastic pollution and contribute to long-term solutions that prevent further accumulation of plastic waste in the oceans.

Plastic Tides

Plastic Tides is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about plastic pollution and promotes solutions through adventure, education, and community engagement.

The organization was founded in 2013 by Christian Shaw and Gordon Middleton, two outdoor enthusiasts who were inspired to take action after witnessing the extent of plastic pollution during a stand-up paddleboarding expedition.

Plastic Tides focuses on three primary areas:

  1. Adventure: The organization uses stand-up paddleboarding and other adventure-based activities as a platform to explore, document, and raise awareness about plastic pollution in waterways. They embark on expeditions in various locations, showcasing plastic pollution’s environmental and human health impacts.
  2. Education: Plastic Tides is committed to educating communities, schools, and individuals about the issue of plastic pollution and the importance of adopting sustainable practices. They offer educational programs, workshops, and presentations focusing on plastic pollution prevention, waste reduction, and promoting a circular economy.
  3. Community Engagement: The organization emphasizes the power of community action in addressing plastic pollution. They collaborate with local communities, businesses, and organizations to organize clean-up events, promote sustainable practices, and inspire collective efforts to reduce plastic waste. Plastic Tides also encourages individuals to become “Plastic Tides Ambassadors” who champion the cause in their own communities.

Through their programs and initiatives, Plastic Tides aims to inspire behavior change, promote eco-conscious lifestyles, and drive advocacy for policy changes related to plastic waste management and pollution prevention. They work closely with partners and volunteers to amplify their impact and reach a broader audience.

Post Landfill Action Network

The Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN) is a nonprofit organization based in the United States that empowers students and campuses to create zero-waste communities.

Founded in 2013 by Alex Freid, PLAN’s mission is to catalyze a student-led movement that prevents waste generation, promotes sustainable consumption, and encourages the reuse and recycling of materials.

PLAN operates through three core strategies:

  1. Student Empowerment: The organization provides resources, training, and support to student leaders on college campuses to help them implement sustainable waste management practices. They offer guidance on waste reduction, recycling, composting, and establishing student-run enterprises that promote reuse and repair.
  2. Networking and Collaboration: PLAN connects student leaders, campuses, and sustainability organizations to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing. They organize conferences, workshops, and networking events where students and sustainability professionals can exchange ideas, learn from each other’s experiences, and develop strategies for waste reduction and sustainability initiatives.
  3. Campaigns and Advocacy: PLAN runs various campaigns to raise awareness and advocate for systemic change related to waste reduction and sustainable practices. They work on single-use plastics, food waste, and the circular economy. Their campaigns aim to engage and mobilize students and communities to drive policy changes and influence industry practices.

PLAN’s efforts have resulted in the creation of student-led initiatives and programs on campuses across the United States and beyond. These initiatives include zero-waste programs, sustainable move-out programs, thrift stores, and campus composting systems.

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