Kirihou kore – kawea ake! 

Plastic Free – take up the challenge!


Plastic Free July is a worldwide challenge with millions of participants in over 170 countries. The main kaupapa behind Plastic Free July is to choose to refuse single use plastic for one month to see how much you can reduce your waste. At the end of the month you see what’s worked and then create new waste reducing habits  to carry on with for the rest of the year.

This challenge can be done at home but also in the workplace.  Coffee cups, sushi containers and broken pens are just some of the items that fill up workplace rubbish bins. So, sign up to take part in the challenge here and then see which of the 10 ideas below you could do at your workplace to encourage your colleagues to use less plastic.

  • Use me! Establish a library or libraries of reusable items for staff to borrow  

Lunchbox library for takeaway lunches

Gather up those unclaimed reusable containers left in the lunchroom (or buy some from your local op shop) so staff can take them when they go to buy takeaway lunches. For sushi lovers keep a bottle of soy sauce in the fridge and reusable chopsticks in the cutlery drawer.

Download the poster here 

Cup library for coffees

Encourage staff to take a real cup with them when they get their coffee or issue them all with a branded reusable coffee cup. Put up on your staff noticeboard a list of cafes within walking distance who offer a discount for bringing your own cup and talk to your closest cafes to see if they would be prepared to do this. Find your nearest cafes here.

Reusable bags library

For staff who are popping out to do some lunchtime shopping have a cloth bag library so they can avoid getting any kind of single use bag.

  •  Spot the plastic

 Get a team together to do a visual audit of the types of plastic in the rubbish and recycling bins and in the cupboards and coming into your workplace to determine the disposable plastic items that could be replaced with reusable or refillable items, such as real glasses at the water cooler, refillable cleaning products, or refillable pens for all staff.

Work with your caterer to determine how they can avoid using plastic wrap and disposable plastic containers. Audit your branded merchandise to see if anything could be replaced with reusable items such as coffee cups, metal water bottles or refillable pens.

  •  Plastic Free July morning tea or lunch

Launch the month with a plastic free morning tea where everyone brings something they have made – provide some recipe cards for items such as homemade crackers or homemade hummus. This can also be an opportunity to talk about the plastic bag phaseout and any other planned events. Click here to find out how to hold a Plastic Free morning tea.

  • Plastic Free Workshops

Consider running a “Mind your own beeswax wrap” workshop or a nude food workshop with recipes for crackers/ hummus etc. Click here to find out how to run a beeswax wrap workshop.

  • Mini Marketplace

Invite a business (or several) that sell items such as cloth produce bags, bamboo pegs and toothbrushes etc in and have a mini market.  Check out The Rubbish Trip’s regional guide to businesses that sell reusable items.  If there is not a business local to you share the website guide with staff.

  • Movie night

Hold a movie night and get staff to invite their families in too. Here are some aptly themed movies:

  • Get your hands dirty

Organise a clean-up – either at a nearby beach or alongside a river or even in a local park or reserve. Your staff get paid as usual but instead of staying in the office get them out into the environment that has inspired Plastic Free July. On the day get everyone to sort out recyclables from rubbish that needs to go into landfill as they collect it. Do a quick talk on what is recyclable in your region before you start.

  • Organise some lunchinars

Do you have staff who are bulk shopping experts? Or staff who have done Plastic Free July before and are happy to share their successes and failures? Find out what your staff are passionate about and invite them to speak at a BYO lunchinar.

  • Delve deeper

If your organisation does not already have a waste minimisation policy or a recycled procurement policy is it time to implement one to make some lasting changes within your organisation? heck out this Waste Minimisation Manual developed by Eco Solutions and these Environmentally Sustainable Procurement Guidelines from Victoria University of Wellington.

  • Celebrate!

Tell your customers what you are doing before, during and after Plastic Free July. At the end of the month have another morning tea and share photos of activities as well as stories about what worked and what didn’t. Give awards out to staff or teams who best epitomised Plastic Free July.

Download the Plastic Free July Logos and email footer here


 Sushi Lunch Box Image Credit: Pauline Hadfield