Join the Plastic Free Challenge!
Help us make our dream of a #PlasticFreeDMV possible.
From October 1 to 30, avoid single-use plastic—especially plastic bags, bottles, and straws. Join with others across NOVA to reduce your plastic footprint and protect our waterways and wildlife. Enroll today!
Plastic pollution is harming our planet.
Over the last couple of decades, cities, states, and countries across the world have been working to reduce single-use plastic consumption by introducing bans on Styrofoam and plastic bags and straws. In April 2020, Governor Northam signed into law a bill that allows Virginia localities to pass their own plastic bag bans.
But in the blink of an eye, Covid-19 reversed so many of these efforts. Grocery stores no longer accept reusable bags; coffee shops no longer accept reusable mugs. And on top of this, demand increased for disposable face masks and plastic gloves. By some estimates, single-use plastic consumption has tripled or quadrupled since lockdowns were imposed in March.
Many horrifying pre-pandemic stats remain the same:
- Worldwide, 5 trillion plastic bags are thrown away annually; 100 billion of these are tossed in the United States.
- Plastic takes centuries to break down.
- Less than 30% of plastic is recyclable, and only 1 to 3% is actually recycled.
- Fairfax County incinerates plastic that isn’t recycled, releasing toxic chemicals in the air.
- Plastics are made from fossil fuels, primarily oil and fracked gas; roughly 12 million barrels of petroleum oil or 69 billion cubic feet of fracked gas are used producing the bags consumed annually in the U.S. alone.
- By 2050 the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish.
And here are some new ones for you:
- Covid-19 can live on plastic surfaces for 3 to 7 days.
- The pollutants released in the manufacture, distribution, and disposal of plastics affect human respiratory health, potentially making people more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
- Health experts worldwide agree that reusables are safe during the pandemic.
You can be part of the solution!
While eliminating single-use plastics from our daily lives can seem like an overwhelming task—especially during a pandemic—even a few simple changes can make a big difference. When you enroll in the Plastic Free Challenge, we will help you along the way, offering encouragement, useful tips, and practical alternatives to commonly used plastic items.
The pandemic has made clear that while our individual choices are part of the solution to the plastics crisis, we cannot carry the full burden. So this year, for each week of the Plastic Free Challenge, we will share a free, easy action, such as contacting your local officials to introduce a plastic bag ban or contacting local restaurant owners about their choice of takeout containers.
- Enroll in the Plastic Free Challenge (October 1–30).
- Commit to reducing your use of single-use plastic bottles, bags, and straws.
- Participate in the weekly virtual actions and share them with your friends and family.
- Attend our Virtual Plastic Free Forum on September 25 for tons of information about plastic pollution and your role in the solution.
- Look for weekly emails with motivational stories, tips, and ideas.
- Track your success and recruit family and friends to join you on your plastic-free adventure.
- Spread the word that reusable is doable during the pandemic using the hashtag #PlasticFreeDMV.
Plastic Free Community Partners: 350 Fairfax, Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, Food & Water Watch, Friends of Holmes Run, Green Muslims, Herndon-Reston Indivisible Science & Environment Group, Loudoun Climate Project, Our Revolution Falls Church, Sierra Club Great Falls Group