Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July is Here! Events & Actions for Body, Home, and Planet

Join the Ecology Center for PLASTIC FREE JULY, a series of events for community members to learn, take action, get tips on reducing plastic waste, and connect with others who are concerned about the global problem of plastic pollution.

In 2017, the City of Berkeley officially declared July Plastic Free Month joining international efforts to reduce plastic. 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 reduce their reliance on single-use plastic disposables, reduce plastic pollution, and push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis- during July and beyond.

With the world still trying to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been trickier than usual to avoid single-use plastic. The plastics industry worked hard over the past year and beyond to elicit fear and uncertainty around reusables as they take advantage of the current throwaway culture of our society and plague our world with disposable products giving us virtually no choice but to purchase plastic in some way. Though efforts to rollback the historical efforts to reduce our reliance on single-use plastic disposables and shift to reuse and waste reduction models were somewhat successful, we must resume our forward momentum in combating the plastics crisis.

This Plastic Free July, the Ecology Center welcomes you to join the movement, where we will look Beyond Recovery, Pushing Back on the resurgence of single-use plastics and plastic waste and work toward a collective vision of a Post-Pandemic Plastic-Free Future. From plastic free gardening, DIY arts and crafts, and cooking classes, to expert panels on current happenings in the reuse movement and a moderated plastics policy roundup- You Don’t Want to Miss This!

View our EcoCalendar for a full list of activities and register today to save your spot!


Garden Pests & Critters in Your Garden: Natural Ways to Control
Saturday | July 10, 2021 | 11:00 am — 12:30 pm

Pests and hungry animals are an unfortunate, but manageable part of the gardening experience, but there are many ways that you can create your garden in a way that helps to limit impact on your plants.

In this class Lori Caldwell, owner of CompostGal Consulting will show participants easy and budget-friendly non-toxic pest control techniques to help tackle and prevent typical garden pests and animals that look at your garden as a good meal. From including plants that attract insect eating butterflies to enclosures to natural sprays, you will come away from this class with a list of methods that will support your sustainable garden in a way that will support the earth. 

Lori Caldwell is an Alameda County Master Composter, a Stopwaste Educator, a Bay-Friendly Qualified Landscape Professional and an avid edible gardener. She has been teaching sustainable gardening classes since 2007.

The Plastic Free Comeback: Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, and Refill
Thursday | July 15, 2021 | 6:00 pm — 7:30 pm

With the pandemic, the plastic industry successfully exploited the crisis to rollback efforts that reduced single-use plastics and to elicit fear and uncertainty around the safety of durable reusable items. And while the health restrictions on reuse have been lifted, the damage is done. Beyond plastics recycling, we must take local action and invest and support sustainable reuse systems that tackle the plastic pollution crisis at its root. We have our work cut out for us to resume our fight against disposable plastic and our forward momentum cannot slow down.

Join the Ecology Center for a forward-thinking and action-oriented panel discussion with local and national leaders in the reuse movement to learn more about current and upcoming happenings in the fight against single-use plastic disposables. Panel discussion will be followed by a live audience Q&A.

Hands On Beeswax Wrap Workshop
Saturday | July 17, 2021 | 11:00 am — 12:30 pm

This popular workshop is back! Come make a beeswax cloth food wrap at Ecology Center!
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 

Woven Market Bag Workshop: Using Recycled Textiles and Plastics
Sunday | July 18, 2021 | 2:00 pm — 3:30 pm

Do you save grocery bags? Most of us do. They pile up and we reuse them but the pile never seems to go down. We know they are harmful to the environment.

In this class you will learn how to make the ultimate recycled market bag from “plarn” using various sizes and colors of discarded plastic grocery bags. You can add your personal style to your market bag while creating a wholly functional, water resistant carry-all that you can show off at your weekly Farmers Market shopping adventure. By using these bags that will end up in landfill in waterways or in our oceans, you are helping to support the environment and our wildlife.

Judith Schonebaum is a popular functional textile art instructor in the Bay Area and beyond. She focuses on creating functional, decorative and wearable art from recycled textiles and plastic materials. She received her BA in Find Arts from the University of Vermont including attending an intensive folk art program at the Shelburne Museum.

You will be sent a material and tool list prior to the class.

Ends & Stems: Meal Planning To Reduce Plastic and Food Waste
Saturday | July 24, 2021 | 11:00 am — 12:30 pm


Celebrate Plastic Free July with personal action!  Most Americans waste an average of 25% of their kitchen food, at the cost of over $2,000 annually. Fresh produce tops the list of food waste items

Chef Alison Mountford invites you into her kitchen as she shares how you can create a plastic free and zero waste kitchen in your own home. In this class you will be guided in creating your own meal plan, how to shop and what to do once you get the groceries back into your kitchen. Learn the best way to store food, create menus, prepare meals and use leftovers. This is an interactive class and you are encouraged to be in their kitchen so you can look through your hands-on groceries with other attendees.

You will leave with recipe cards and a 7-day plan that outlines the best way you can reduce food waste, and reduce stress at mealtime and a better understanding of the impact of food waste on our environment.

Chef Alison Mountford is chef is the founder of Ends + Stems, a meal planning service with the goal of creating meals that have a meaningful impact on your life and your planet. A graduate of the San Francisco Culinary Institute, Chef Alison is passionate about helping others reduce their food waste by sharing meal planning, shopping, cooking and storing techniques.

Plastic Policy Roadmap to Rebound: Legislation for a Plastic-Free Future
Thursday | July 29, 2021 | 6:00 pm — 7:30 pm

Despite the many setbacks fueled by the plastics industry during the pandemic to halt forward momentum around reuse and reduction efforts, dozens of groundbreaking plastics policies have pushed through, sparking much hope in real solutions. With plastic production expected to grow 30% in the next five years, strong and comprehensive legislation that focuses on key issues in plastic and recycling industries is critical for historical and urgent shifts.

Join the Ecology Center and a cadre of plastics policy experts, leaders, and organizers for an informative and encouraging overview of the 2021 plastics policy agenda. Learn more about these new and improved bills as we breakdown how they address significant issues impacting the plastic crisis such as extended producer responsibility for packaging, reuse, deposit-return systems, and what’s new in the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act. Panel discussion will be followed by a live audience Q&A.

The event will be moderated by the Ecology Center’s Executive Director Martin Bourque and will include a live Q&A for the community to join in.


Plastic Free Resources

Take Action

Support Beyond Plastics and the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, the bill we need to support to address the plastic pollution crisis by calling your representatives!️

The phone lines are open! – Call Congress About The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act!

1. Check to see if your Senators and Representative have already signed on to co-sponsor.

2. Call your three members of Congress:
Representative Barbara Lee ((202) 225-2661)
Senator Dianne Feinstein at ((202) 224-3841)

3. Leave a message, here’s a suggested script

4. Repeat the process until you’ve called all three of your members of Congress.


Bills that need your support:

In Senate Policy Committees (likely to be heard in June/July)

Assembly Bill 1201– Compost. This bill bans the sale of plastic products that are labeled “compostable” unless it meets specified standards and criteria. Send a letter or give your statement to support to Assembly Member Phil Ting.

Assembly Bill 478  – Thermoform Minimum Content. Sets minimum recycled content requirements for plastic thermoform food containers (i.e. berry boxes, clamshell containers). Send a letter or give your statement to support to Assembly Member Phil Ting.

Assembly Bill  962 – Returnable Beverage Bottles. Allows returnable (“refillable”) bottles to be preserved and refilled by beverage producers (example: breweries), rather than crushed and recycled. Contact: Senator Kamlager

Assembly Bill 881- (Plastic Waste Exports) which closes an existing loophole in California law that allows mixed plastic exports to be counted as recycling regardless of their ultimate destination, which is often overseas landfills, incinerators, or waterways. Contact: Assembly Member Gonzalez.

Assembly Bill 818 – Wipes. Requires certain premoistened nonwoven disposable wipes to be labeled with the phrase “Do Not Flush” and prevents them from making flushable claims. Contact: Assembly Member Richard Bloom.

Assembly Bill 1454 (Bottle Bill Modernization) which helps keep recycling centers open and provides much-needed support for new centers to open in areas where there are not enough centers to serve consumers, including rural and urban areas, Send a letter or give your statement to support to Assembly Member Richard Bloom.

AB 1276 (Carrillo) (Single-use food accessories) Reduces unnecessary food serviceware – Expands plastic straws upon request law to include other single-use food accessories for food delivery and takeout. Send a letter or give your statement to support to Assembly Member Wendy Carillo

Currently in the Assembly:

SB 343 (Allen) – Truth in Labeling for Recyclables. Builds on Californi’as current “Truth in Environmental Advertising law that prohibits the use of the word “recyclable” on products that are not truly recyclable and should not be put in a curbside recycle bin. SB 343 extends this prohibition to include the “chasing arrows” symbol, which most consumers believe denotes recyclability. Send a letter or give your statement to support to Senator Ben Allen.