Conservation & Science

Make it a Plastic-Free July!

Summertime is pretty much one big YAY: fireworks, barbecues, trips to the beach. It’s the time of year we tend to appreciate the ocean the most — whether we’re surfing in it, taking a cruise on it or kicking back on the sand beside it.

But all of these awesome moments can come with a cost. We’re trashing our coasts and ocean with single-use plastic, whether it’s in the form of bags, bottles or packaging. These throwaway items may seem convenient in the short term, but we can make more thoughtful choices for our planet’s future.

Plastic Free July challenges people to avoid single-use plastic for one month. The idea started five years ago in Australia (where July is mid-winter) and has grown into a global movement. Participants can pledge to refuse all single-use plastic during the challenge, or scale it back to the “top four”: plastic bags, bottles, coffee lids and straws. 

Monterey Bay Aquariums staff show off their favorite reusable bags.

Today’s kickoff is especially symbolic for California. One year ago — on July 1, 2015 — the statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags was supposed to go into effect. But out-of-state plastic bag interests spent millions of dollars to force the issue onto the November 2016 ballot, delaying its implementation.

In the year since the law should have taken effect, Californians have used as many as 13 billion disposable plastic bags that the statewide ban would have prevented. Every bag could potentially make its way to the ocean.

The plastics industry knows that California is a leader in ocean conservation. Time and again, the state’s actions to keep our coast clean and protect marine wildlife has influenced other states — and the rest of the world — to follow suit.

This weekend, try enjoying your Fourth of July celebrations without single-use plastic.

A student in the Aquarium’s Young Women in Science education program turns an old T-shirt into a reusable bag.

Bring your own mug, water bottle and cutlery to the picnic. Request “no straw, please” when you order drinks. Tweet, Instagram or Facebook a selfie with a reusable bag and hashtag it #MyBag #MiBolsa.

And if you’re a registered voter in California, vote YES on Proposition 67 in November to uphold the statewide plastic bag ban. Say YES to a plastic-free ocean!

Read more about Monterey Bay Aquarium’s work to reduce ocean plastic pollution.

Featured image: Students in the Young Women in Science program practice yoga before their beach cleanup on Monterey.

5 thoughts on “Make it a Plastic-Free July!”

  1. LOVE your information updates, I’ve only recently become aware of this blog and subscribed to the posts ­ has there been any done on noise pollution? And oil pollution? And if so could I please get a copy. Thanks in advance Kind regards Kirsty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for following the blog! We aren’t currently focused on noise pollution or oil pollution. Ocean plastic pollution is a priority issue for us, especially with California preparing to vote in November to uphold a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.


  2. Kudos to you for bringing awareness to the absurdity of single-use plastics. They, like styrofoam, should be banned! I’m trying to raise awareness at my office….surprised at the ignorance and reluctance to recycling…and we are in a Unversity community in California! Our own garbage company lacks awareness! Appreciate more information on what is and is not recycleable to share with my folks! Some are of the mindset that ALL plastic and recycled paper are recycleable! Wish there was more info available!


    1. Thanks for being a leader on this critical issue. Keep asking your trash hauler and regional landfill to share information. The Monterey Regional Waste Management District that serves the Aquarium, and our local trash companies, are very active in diverting recyclable/reusable products out of the waste stream.


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