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#PlasticFreeJuly: Choose to Refuse

Challenge yourself to live for a whole month (or longer) without single-use plastic by joining the #Plastic Free July campaign this year.

What is Plastic Free July?

Founded in 2011, the global campaign helps people to reduce single-use plastic waste by providing resources, tips, and a community to share progress.

In 2015, 80% of global plastic waste were either incinerated or discarded in landfills.

While recycling rates are increasing, lack of capacity means that lots of waste ends up being sent abroad for incineration or dumping. Following China, Turkey has recently banned imported plastic waste from the UK.

The Plastic Free foundation suggests that a more effective way of reducing single-use plastic waste is to refuse it in the first place. Last year, 326 million people were estimated to participate in the campaign, pledging to refuse single-use plastic in July and beyond.

Packaging solutions

Besides shifting consumption behaviour, large-scale systemic changes in the production and packaging on consumer goods are crucial, calling for conjoined efforts by governments, scientists, producers and retailers.

The EU’s ban on certain single-use plastic products, such as cutlery, straws, and polystyrene containers has just come into effect. Furthermore, there has been moves to develop circular materials to avoid plastic pollution: mushroom-based packaging to replace Styrofoam, bags made of starch, and microfibre catchers for washing machines. Several UK supermarkets, including Morrisons and Sainsburys, have also taken steps to sell more loose fruit and vegetables. Others have installed eco-refill stations for household products.

At Warwick

In the University, several initiatives have helped the community become more plastic-free:

- WMG has removed all disposable cups from its premises since 2018,

- The student-led Warwick Reusable Cup Scheme, a cup borrowing service for drinks purchased in campus outlets, is planned to relaunch after COVID-19 restrictions lift,

- Plastic-free soluble cleaning sachets are used to clean all student accommodation,

- The Conferences team has removed all plastic water bottles from Conference accommodation and has switched to wooden toothpicks.

Minimise plastic in your shopping

To get you started on your plastic-free journey, feel free to visit one of these zero-waste shops in your area:


1. Cogs of Coventry – Stall 209, 14 Market Way, Coventry CV1 1DL

2. The Green Unicorn – Unit 3F FarGo Village, Far Gosford Street, Coventry CV1 5ED

3. Down to Earth Organic – 96a Earlsdon Street, Coventry CV5 6EJ

4. Canley Co-Operative zero-waste section – 381 Allesley Old Rd, Coventry CV5 8GG

Leamington Spa:

1. Zero Store – 41 Russell Street, Leamington Spa CV32 5QB

2. CORE Leamington – 50 Regent Street, Leamington Spa CV32 5EG

3. Gaia Co-op – 7 Regent Place, Leamington Spa

4. Reyousable (online or at concessions in Spa Town Coffee and Stonemonkey Yoga Studio and Café)

If you are in Kenilworth or Warwick, there are also farmers’ markets selling a wide variety of items, from loose vegetables and fruits to artisanal cheeses.

Take on the challenge on the Plastic Free July website and take this month to choose to refuse. Follow us @WarwickUniSust to find out more about plastic free switches you can make.

Follow us @WarwickUniSust