#PlasticsFreeJuly – Vancouver’s commitment to sustainability

Every July, we reignite our pledge to minimize waste as we celebrate #PlasticsFreeJuly. Going plastics-free or minimizing our use of one-time-use plastics has gotten easier in recent years due to a combination of necessity (new bylaws) and technological advances.

In this article, we’ll briefly introduce the Plastics Free July® movement, share how Vancouver is taking action to minimize plastic waste, and share some tips for minimizing plastic waste at home and work.

What is Plastic Free July?

Plastics Free July is a global movement that reminds us to minimize our use of single-use plastics and encourages us to seek solutions to minimize our global plastic waste problem. Talking about the effects of plastic waste is part of a larger, global behavioural shift on plastic use.

This global shift involves how we, as consumers, respond to single-use plastics. The more we can push businesses to stop supplying them, and the more we can make carrying reusable products a priority in our daily lives, the further we can move the dial to cut down on global plastic waste.

The global effects of single-use plastics

You’ve likely seen pictures of plastic waste (like takeout containers, bottles, cups, straws, and other single-use plastics) piling like mountains in our oceans and water sources. While these images paint a stark picture of the problem, the stats amplify the global plastic waste problem.

Here are some stats from Oceanworks:

  • 380 Million metric tonnes of plastic are created annually
  • 11 Million metric tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans annually
  • $80 Billion worth of single-use plastic is thrown away

Did you know It can take plastic 400 years to decompose? We know that 91% of consumers are concerned about plastic waste, but how many are taking steps to minimize it? How many businesses are supporting zero-waste initiatives?

YVR reusable water bottle by Fairware

How Vancouver is tackling plastic waste

In January 2020, Vancouver and many nearby municipalities banned foam cups, take-out containers, and plastic straws in the city. Instead, businesses offered paper alternatives and encouraged customers to bring their own reusable cups, containers, and straws. Many shopping establishments also ban plastic shopping bags and sell reusable bags instead.

Establishments in Vancouver are also required by law to offer single-use utensils to customers if they request them. This is required for accessibility reasons (to include those who, for medical or other needs, require these to enjoy their meals and drinks).

These plastics-free initiatives are part of Vancouver’s goal to become a zero-waste city by 2040.

Vancouver’s Zero Waste Demonstration site
Another city initiative to reduce plastic waste is the Zero Waste Demonstration Site. It will be an industrial-sized incubator and demonstration space for businesses to demonstrate zero-waste technology, increase green jobs, and establish tech that can be scaled for city-wide usage. The pilot project is expected to kick off in the Fall of 2023.

reusable patagonia bag by Fairware

How to be plastic-free in your business

Your business can promote a zero-waste attitude during Plastics Free July and year-round. If you have a kitchen or cafeteria at your workplace, stock it with reusable dishes and cups rather than plastic or paper ones that end up in landfills.

When you’re looking at purchasing new promotional materials, be mindful of your choices to ensure they’re as sustainable and not-waste as possible. Look for zero-waste promotional products when possible.

Start by supporting custom-branded promotional product companies that are doing good in the world. Look for promotional product companies certified as

vote every day bcorp mug

Mindful, no-plastic-waste promotional product ideas

Show your customers your corporate sustainability values by promoting multi-use promotional materials and giveaways that will likely be used regularly rather than tossed in the trash after a tradeshow. Here are several great ideas inspired by some of our favourite Fairware suppliers:

1. Minimize single-use cutlery with reusable cutlery.
Could you imagine your customers and prospects carrying a stylish set of reusable cutlery in their bags? This can help minimize the use of single-use plastics at fast food restaurants. We like ones made from eco-friendly materials like bamboo. Interested in cutlery?

Our Zero Waste Lookbook has some great reusable cutlery sets.

2. Eliminate plastic straws with stainless steel or bamboo
Straws are easy to carry in your purse, computer bag, backpack, or car. You can get reusable stainless steel or bamboo straws and a custom-branded carrying bag or case to go with it. You can brand the case with your logo or a phrase important to your brand.

Check out some fun reusable straw sets.

3. Eliminate foam takeout containers with reusable containers
Carrying a small reusable container in your bag or when you plan to eat out can help you avoid using plastic, foam, or paper takeout containers for your leftovers or takeaway food. Sustainable, plastic-free materials for reusable containers include stainless steel, bamboo, and wheat straw.

Explore Reusable Containers.

4. Avoid plastic waste by replacing plastic bags with eco-reusable bags
Your branding would look great on a tote or reusable shopping bag. Reusable shopping bags say that you care about minimizing plastic waste…and you know it’s something your customers can use. Some bags can fold into a carrying case, so you can keep it handy in your purse or bag.

View sustainable options for reusable shopping or tote bags.

5. Save plastic bottles from the landfill with a reusable, branded bottle
When you see pictures of plastic waste in the ocean and rivers, you often see single-use water bottles and coffee or drink cups. It’s easier to eliminate this waste when you use a reusable water bottle and bring your mugs or cups to food establishments. There are so many options for branded drinkware.

Check out our Drinkware Lookbook for inspiration.

Reusable straws and drinkware

What does the future hold for global plastics usage?

The message isn’t new. We all need to do our part to minimize our dependence on single-use plastics. If more of us refuse to use single-use plastics, manufacturers will eventually stop making them altogether.

As a business, you can do your part by being mindful of your promotional product purchases. Look for promotional products from sustainably minded companies that use sustainable or renewable materials in their products.

To help you pick the best promotional products, talk to Fairware today to get our expert recommendations. Together we can minimize or eliminate plastic waste in our communities.