Humanizing the Plastic Waste Reduction Conversation
Plastic Free July
Plastic Free July 2020
Generating global impact through millions of individual actions
Over the past decade, the Plastic Free Foundation has worked to reduce global plastic pollution through its annual Plastic Free July campaign. For its 2020 campaign — with COVID-19 spiking global plastic use — generating awareness of safe reduction efforts was relevant and necessary.
As a leading voice in the plastic reduction movement, the foundation knew it had a role to play in educating people about how their actions contribute to the larger goal of eliminating plastic waste. It also set an ambitious goal for 2020: To reduce worldwide plastic waste by 1 billion kilograms.
In the third year of WE’s partnership with the Plastic Free Foundation, we developed a global media campaign to encourage participation in the challenge. To connect with audiences stuck at home during the pandemic, we adapted the messaging, focusing on the relationship between the environment and community well-being. The campaign centered on the foundation’s founder, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, who shared plastic avoidance tips from her new book, “Plastic Free: The Inspiring Story of a Global Environmental Movement and Why It Matters.” Through stories of regular people making simple changes, like using reusable bags and buying refillable cleaning supplies, audiences saw how small lifestyle changes have a profound impact on reducing plastic waste.
The WE team also utilized the foundation’s website to highlight case studies of individuals spreading awareness and contributing to the cause, along with animated videos detailing simple waste reduction tips.
We engaged high-profile influencers who encouraged people to refuse single-use plastics, working with Cody Simpson and Cat Stevens / Yusuf who amplified the campaign on their channels and leveraging an ongoing collaboration with musician Jack Johnson who created a song for the campaign.
Plastic Free July 2020 resonated globally, resulting in:
- 900 million kilograms of plastic waste reduced, a 9% YoY increase
- 326 million participants in Plastic Free July 2020, a 30.4% YoY increase
- More than 3,400 pieces of global media coverage generated across prominent publications like the New York Times, CNN and The Guardian, a 56% YoY increase
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