Plastic-Free July

Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. In Philly, there are plenty of opportunities to participate to reduce the use of plastic and improve our environment. 

Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University's Plastic-Free Philly badge.

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is a science leader for the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, which protects and restores the rivers and streams that supply our drinking water. They have partnered with the Philadelphia Water Department to inspire residents to take the Drink Philly Tap pledge: Help save the environment from plastic waste and drink water from the faucet, after you’ve filtered it. Below are a few other action steps they recommend.

Take Action

Help Clean Up our Waterways

Staggering amounts of plastic water bottles are dumped in the Delaware River and connecting waterways. The Academy, Philadelphia retailer United by Blue, and Tacony Frankfort Watershed Partners aim to remove 50,000 pounds of trash from the river. Make a difference and sign up for a clean-up day.

Waterway Cleanup. Image: United by Blue
Waterway Cleanup. Image: United by Blue

Make a donation

The Academy has been researching, protecting, and restoring the health of watersheds since 1947. Support the Academy and our clean water research efforts.

Takeaway coffee cups

Most coffee cups aren’t recycled. By bringing your own reusable coffee cup, or taking the time to dine in at your favorite café, you can make a huge difference.

Fruit & vegetables

Many grocery stores pre-package their fruit and vegetables in plastic. Instead, consider going to a farmers market or organic store where plastic packaging is not used. BYO reusable bags or containers and shop the bulk section to avoid unnecessary plastic waste while saving some money.

Plastic straws

Many bars and cafes put plastic straws in every drink. Reduce plastic waste by requesting your drink without a plastic straw or bringing your own reusable alternative. There are stainless steel, bamboo, and glass options available.

Bakery products

Unfortunately, many bakeries package their bread, rolls, and other baked goods in plastic. Avoid single-use packaging by bringing your own containers. 

Meat, fish & deli

These products are often sold on polystyrene trays; a type of plastic that is difficult to recycle and contains chemicals that can be harmful to human health. Purchase these items from purveyors who use butcher paper such as Primal Supply Meats in East Passyunk and Brewerytown.

Take a tour or visit an installation

The Academy of NaturalScience is teaming up with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) as well as local and national artists to inspire people to stop using plastic water bottles. Through July, BOMA is hosting installations with video talks about each artist’s work in ten buildings across the city. Take a self-guided tour of all ten installations to be inspired and make a change. 

Stop by the lobby of 151 Market Street to see fiber artist Kate Leibrand’s nautical tableau, “Choking Hazard,” crafted from post-consumer recycled plastic.

Or watch ceramic artist Benjamin Peterson spend the next two months creating a single person’s annual bottled water intake in the lobby of 3 Logan Square. He has set up a portable throwing wheel where he will create his installation, “156 Handmade Clay Bottles.” 

Buy reusable products

Philly has sustainable shops in many sections of the city, including Good Buy Supply in East Passyunk, United By Blue in Old City and University City, and Rays Reusables in Northern Liberties where you can shop for reusable products, and a plastic-free selection of everyday items.

Make simple swaps and start wherever you can on your plastics-free journey, knowing you are saving our most precious resource – our waterways.

Interested in learning other ways you can help reduce your environmental footprint? Check out our article on Four Ways to Minimize your Waste Footprint in Philadelphia or our list on 5 Things Philly Renters can do for the Environment.

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