1. August 2022
Julia Kriegel

Plastic Free July

Our VAST GREEN initiative is a true team project, we believe that real, sustainable change is only possible together. The question with long-running internal projects, however, is: How can we stay motivated as a team? 

Our approach in March 2022 was our VAST GREEN Team Challenge. 

We shared life hacks and suggestions around sustainability and mindfulness in a variety of very different tasks in our “GREEN Challenge”. We looked at ourselves and over each other’s shoulders in order to raise awareness for sustainable perspectives and on the way we shape our lives and make everyday decisions (https://vast-green.com/en/green-challenge-in-march/). 

Not only was the first GREEN Challenge a lot of fun, but it helped us continue to work towards our goal of the sustainable development of VAST FORWARD. 

In July, we launched a new challenge based on the concept of “Plastic Free July” – we call this challenge our “Plastic Free July Challenge”. 

The focus of our challenge was plastic avoidance, reuse and alternatives to the “convenience resource plastic”.

What’s actually behind Plastic Free July?

Founded by a small team in Western Australia in 2011, Plastic Free July has grown into one of the most impactful environmental campaigns worldwide. Each year, an estimated 140 million people across 190 countries participate in Plastic Free July and continue to pledge to reduce their plastic consumption to the greatest extent possible well beyond the month of July (https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/about-us/).

We were able to easily integrate the Challenge into our daily projects. Throughout July, we shared a new task, quiz or question in the VAST GREEN Slack channel. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we openly shared our respective answers, images and inspirations with the team. We also shared the challenge on our Instagram channel, so our community could join the quiz or share suggestions and questions. 

Again, it was very exciting to take a close look at our everyday habits, identify patterns of use, and share how we as individuals can change our plastic consumption and reduce our dependence on plastic.

Some examples from our Challenge:

Thanks to the sailing project VAST FLOATING, the whole VAST FORWARD team has a special connection to the ocean. And we probably all know the pictures of plastic waste in the oceans and the stories of microplastics in food chains (you can find some data here: https://www.sea-help.eu/dies-das/plastik-plastikmuell-im-meer/). 

Therefore, we started our July challenge with the question how long different plastic objects, like plastic bottles or plastic bags need, to completely decompose in the ocean.The results were once again eye-opening and motivated us to rethink our own plastic consumption. 

So in the next step, we looked for alternatives on how we can avoid plastic packaging and commodities or how plastic products that cannot be avoided can be reused or given a “second life”. It was nice to see that as a team we are already doing a lot of things right in our everyday lives and live according to the principle “reduce, recycle and reuse”: Franzi showed us how she now makes products for her daily care or household products herself. In doing so, she looks at ingredients that are hidden in conventional products in great detail – we all learned a lot and we think it’s great! Go Franzi!

Of course, it was also about opening our eyes again in our own immediate surroundings and sensitizing ourselves on how much plastic waste can be found everywhere: our task for this was called “plogging” (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plogging), collecting trash while jogging or walking. 

The good thing about plogging is the feeling of making a contribution, but also to see an effect right away: the amounts of trash we keep finding on streets, parks or at lakes are alarming.

In our second Challenge, we learned some new things, or rather, we were reminded of them again. This motivates us to continue with our sustainability initiative VAST GREEN – and to use our results within our community to make as many people as possible aware of the urgency of climate change and, in this case, the plastic problem. 

By the way, according to the founders of the Plastic Free July initiative, participating in the Challenge leads to the following results:

_ a reduction in household waste of 15 kg per person per year (3.5% less waste) 

_ a global reduction of 2.1 billion tons of waste and recycling, including 300 million kilograms of plastic consumption

_ 86% of people make changes that become a habit / lifestyle 

_ after 11 years, Plastic Free July has reduced demand for bottled water by 2.3%, fruit and vegetable packaging by 3.1%, and plastic straws by 4.0% (source: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/about-us/

The numbers speak for themselves. We will definitely continue to replace plastic products as best we can and look for new alternatives. Do you have any other ideas or challenges for us? If so, feel free to get in touch via green@vast-forward.com.

Go green with VAST GREEN!

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