Plastic-Free July

20150617plasticfreejulyOver the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century. Half of plastic is used once and then thrown away, and only 5-10% of plastic is recovered through recycling. Plastic is piling up everywhere – in our landfills, in our waterways and oceans, even in our bodies.

There is something we can do. There is a global movement to raise awareness about the problem of plastic, and create momentum for solutions. Join thousands of people from over 70 countries in taking the challenge to reduce your plastic use for Plastic-Free July!

Plastic-Free July is an annual event that began in Western Australia in 2011 and has spread across the globe. It aims to raise awareness of the amount of plastic in our lives by encouraging people to eliminate the use of single-use, disposable plastic during July each year.

Take the challenge to reduce your plastic use this July, and be a part of the movement to address the plastic problem.
Click here to pledge to take action!

The Ecology Center is hosting a series of events for Plastic-Free July to learn, take action, and get tips on reducing plastic, while meeting other community members to connect on this topic. Click on any of the events below to read more details.


Are you curious about simple, every-day strategies to reduce plastic in your life? Join a potluck lunch and presentation with author and activist Beth Terry to explore inspiration, challenges, and solutions to address our plastic problem. Beth will present a slideshow and discuss how and why to reduce your consumption of single-use plastic. Presentation will be followed by a Q&A — share your toughest plastic challenges! Store Manager Alison Moreno will highlight alternative products available at the Ecology Center that enable plastic-free living. Copies of the new edition of Beth’s book, Plastic-Free will be available for sale and signing. Bring a potluck dish to share, ideally using your favorite non-plastic, reusable container.

Date: Saturday, July 11, 2015
Time: 1 – 3 PM
Location: Ecology Center Classroom, 2530 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley
Cost: Free, bring potluck dish to share
More Details: Click here


Join the Berkeley Marina Experience Programs and the Ecology Center for a shoreline clean-up, in celebration of Plastic-Free July! Learn about marine plastic pollution, and then get hands-on experience removing some from the Berkeley shoreline! We will meet at the Shorebird Park Nature Center at 9am. Participants will turn in their signed waivers, view a brief indoor presentation on the problems of plastics in the marine environment, and learn how to fill out the data cards. There will be a safety talk, and explanations of what is not recyclable where to put the trash you find.

At this point, we will set out as a group to clear trash from a particular area of the Berkeley marina shoreline. Clean-up ends at 12pm, when we will return all unused materials, data cards, pencils and any borrowed tools or supplies to the Nature Center.

Wear sturdy tie on shoes — no sandals, flip flops or crocks. This is NOT a beach — it is man made landfill and sometimes you will be working around large rocks.
Wear pants not shorts – you will be kneeling on rocks/sand/dirt.
Dress like an onion so you can peel off the layers as the temperature rises. It can be cold in the morning, hot in the afternoon and windy.
People should bring: your own reusable water bottle and a hat, and sunscreen. Your own gloves and a reusable bucket. If you do not have them they will be provided.

Children under the age of 18 need to have their parent sign their waiver. There will also be waivers available for adults to sign themselves.

Date: Saturday, July 18, 2015
Time: 9 AM – 12 PM
Location: Shorebird Park Nature Center, 160 University Avenue, Berkeley
Cost: Free, pre-register by email to
More Details: Click here


Learn to make your own Skin Cleansing Scrub and Toothpaste, with alternative ingredients to plastic microbeads. Ecology Center staffer Jeannie Pham will lead this workshop on making your own body care products, without the toxic microbeads found in many commercial products. We will also discuss current legislation to ban microbeads, and how you can get involved to help preserve the health of our oceans. See our recent blog post on this subject: We will also introduce plastic-free body products from the Ecology Center Store.

Date: Sunday, July 26, 2015
Time: 1 – 3 PM
Location: Ecology Center Classroom, 2530 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley
Cost: $15 general, $10 for Ecology Center members
Register: Click here


Why do we send so much of our plastic waste to China for recycling? What actually happens to it once it’s there? Why don’t we handle our own plastic waste? With its “Green Fence” policy, China has become choosier about the plastic waste it accepts, while US residents are creating more plastic waste than ever. We’ll be screening a clip from Wang Jiuliang’s upcoming film “Plastic China” and hosting a panel discussion that pulls the curtain back on our ever-shifting plastics recycling system.

Moderator – Martin Bourque, Executive Director of the Ecology Center
Steve Lautze, CA Association of Recycling Market Development Zones, BIN
Patty Moore, President, Moore Recycling Associates
Peter Schultz-Allen, Former Zero Waste Commissioner, City of Berkeley

Date: Thursday, July 30, 2015
Time: 7 – 9 PM
Location: Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley
Cost: Free
More Details: Click here


A casual get-together with Beth Terry and Ecology Center staff. Bring the disposable plastic items you collected during Plastic-Free July. What were the hardest items or categories to reduce your plastic consumption of? Share challenges and successes and help others reduce their use of disposable plastic — what alternatives to single-use plastic did you discover or create? What products and vendors were most helpful or responsive in your search for plastic-free packaging? What is on the frontier — products and packaging that are calling out to be re-designed without plastic? The Ecology Center’s Farmers’ Market staff will be on-hand to talk about the Zero Waste efforts at the markets. Shop at the market for picnic items, or bring your own lunch from home.

Date: Saturday, August 1, 2015
Time: 1 – 3 PM
Location: Downtown Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Center St between Milvia and Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Cost: Free, picnic food available for purchase from Farmers’ Market, or bring food from home
More Details: Click here



[Photo credit: Bo Eide on Flickr]