Plastic Free July


As one of the nation’s first curbside recyclers, we’re here to say we can’t recycle our way out of the problems of plastic. We can take on throwaway plastic – and you can join us.
Click here to sign on your support.

IN THE WORLD OF REDUCING WASTE, REDUCING PLASTIC IS A TOP PRIORITY. Plastic is pervasive in products we buy, it’s difficult to recycle, and it breaks down into tiny particles that are polluting our oceans. If you want to focus on how and why to reduce plastic, we invite you to join Plastic-Free July! The Ecology Center is hosting a series of events as part of an international effort of people joining together to reduce single-use plastic in their daily lives. We’ll have a film screening, workshops to make your own alternatives, a shoreline clean-up, and a panel event of experts discussing how plastic and its chemical components end up in your food. Check out our line-up below.

This series of events is co-sponsored by Clean Water Action, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Plastic Pollution Coalition, Green Science Policy Institute, and Story of Stuff.


Thursday | July 6, 2017 | 6:30 pm — 9:00 pm
BFUU Fellowship Hall | 1924 Cedar Street, Berkeley, CA 94709

Join Transition Berkeley for a film screening of Smog of the Sea, followed by a discussion with San Francisco’s Senior Commercial Zero Waste Coordinator, Jack Macy, who will share info about local efforts to reduce single-use plastics. Smog of the Sea follows the crew of @5Gyres SEA change research expedition, as they discover that the great ocean garbage patch is actually a “fog” of microplastics – trillions of barely visible shards – permeating the world’s oceans. The crew includes renowned surfers Keith & Dan Malloy, musician Jack Johnson, spearfisher woman Kimi Werner, and bodysurfer Mark Cunningham. Using sparkling underwater cinematography and live-action footage of the crew’s research, Smog of the Sea makes an artful call to action for rethinking single-use plastic.

Attendees are invited to meet and greet and asked to bring healthy snacks to share if possible. The film will begin at 7:00 and discussion will follow, as well as hands-on opportunities to create alternatives to plastic packaging.

Co-Sponsors: Transition Berkeley, Social Justice Committee (Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists)
Click here for more details.


Saturday | July 15, 2017 | 9:00 am — 1:00 pm
Berkeley Marina Shorebird Park | 160 University Ave, Berkeley

Join the Shorebird Park Nature Center for this month’s shoreline clean-up to help remove trash and plastics from our bay! We’ll collect litter and record important data, to improve the health of our ecosystem. Clean Water Action’s ReThink Disposable campaign will share how commonly found items like plastic straws and disposable cups can be prevented from being used in the first place, and how you can spread the word in your community. We’ll have snacks and a drawing of prizes for participants, including two tickets to Jack Johnson’s upcoming Berkeley concert!

  • Wear sturdy tie on shoes — no sandals, flip flops or Crocs.
  • Wear pants, not shorts as you might 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 and warmer in the afternoon and windy.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle, hat, and sunscreen. If possible, bring your own gloves and a reusable bucket — if you do not have them, they will be provided.

All participants need to sign waivers, and children under the age of 18 need to have their parent sign their waiver. Pre-register by email: Please note how many people will be in your party and what ages. We hope you will join us!


Saturday| July 22, 2017 | 10:00 am — 12:00 pm
Berkeley Transfer Station | 1231 2nd Street, Berkeley, CA 94702

Where does plastic go after you’ve put it in your recycling cart? Visit Berkeley’s 2nd Recycling Yard for an in-depth look “beyond the cart” into the world of zero waste and recycling. Daniel Maher, Ecology Center Recycling Program Director, will lead a tour and discussion of what happens to plastic once it’s collected, where it ends up, and the challenges associated with recycling these materials. We’ll also hear from staff of Community Conservation Center, which operates the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where materials are sorted and baled for shipping to recycling facilities.

This tour is limited in size and RSVP is required. Participants will be required to sign a waiver and will be given a safety talk about touring this facility.

Click here for more details.


Sunday | July 23, 2017 | 1:00 pm — 3:00 pm
Ecology Center Classroom | 2530 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

Steer away from disposable plastic wraps with a reusable, safe alternative: beeswax cloth food wrap. In this workshop we will make our own wraps that can be used to cover containers in the fridge, keep bread, your lunch, or vegetables fresh. It even works well for cheese!

We will discuss the different materials that go into this wrap, and you’ll be able to take one home of your own creation. We look forward to lots of plastic-free fun with you!

Click here for more details.


Thursday | July 27, 2017 | 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Ed Roberts Campus | 3075 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703

Plastic products are piling up on the planet: the more we produce, the more we discard. Recycling barely touches the problem, which goes way beyond litter. Plastic is making its way into our food and our bodies. Join this panel of experts to learn the ways that cheap, disposable plastic is leading to a total and intimate saturation of our environment and selves. Plus, learn about possible solutions, including policies and alternative products.

Panelists include:

Martin Bourque, Ecology Center
Arlene Blum, Green Science Policy Institute
Sandra Curtis, Plastic Pollution Coalition
Carolynn Box, 5 Gyres

Click here for more details.


Sunday | July 30, 2017 | 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Ecology Center | 2530 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

Learn to create your very own live-cultured effervescent beverages at this sparkling, fun, hands-on fermentation workshop. Invigorate your creativity and give yourself and your family the satisfaction of enjoying beautifully crafted libations that are unique, delicious, and filled with health-promoting probiotics. Karen Diggs will show how to make sauerkraut and other fermented foods with her innovative Kraut Source, a plastic-free airlock that prevents many of the problems that can occur during the fermentation process.
Click here for more details.


From Here to China: Secrets of Plastics Recycling (Audio recording and link to presentations)


Fact sheets:

(downloadable & printable PDFs)

Visual guide: