Plastic Free July for Hospitality Teams
Plastic Free July: Participating as a Team!
Why Plastic Free July is a great engagement technique for teams!
What is Plastic Free July you might be asking? It’s an awareness campaign that began in Australia in 2011 and was introduced to Southeast Asia in 2015 through community events and social media promotion.
The concept is straightforward – can you give up single-use plastic for 1 month?
At PFSEA we focus on the Top 5 single-use plastics:
- Coffee cups
- Water bottles
- Takeaway containers
You do your best to avoid these 5 for the month of July. It’s a really interesting exercise. And when you do find you’ve used one of these plastics, you keep it for the whole month and see what accumulates.
This campaign is about focus!
And that’s why it’s magic for managers that want to see their staff using less plastic.
We all get busy with our day to day duties; work, family, study, endlessly scrolling on Instagram…. Am I right? There’s not a lot of room for new habits. This is why a month-long focus is useful and it can also be a lot of fun!
By focusing on single-use plastics for a month, it signals the brain: ‘hey, this plastic stuff is important!’ then once you see how much is in our everyday use during July…. You start to see it EVERYWHERE. It’s like when you decide to buy new running shoes, you decide to get the cool fluorescent coloured ones. Then you start to see everyone wearing brightly coloured running shoes. There were always a lot of people wearing them, it’s just you hadn’t noticed before.
This is what plastic free july does for our awareness of single-use plastics.
It’s also about changing habits and I recommend the book Atomic Habits by James Clear if you want to learn more about this!
Shutting down the unwanted habit:
Make using single-use HARD for your team. Take single-use things out of arms reach and lock them in cupboards or put them in the boss’s office to make them hard to get to. This is the first step in changing the habit of people using single-use. Make it difficult for them to access.
Then, make it easy to choose reusables, get everyone to bring in some tupperware and a keep cup from home, have it on their desk, glue their keys to it (or their phone lol) and get into the habit of taking these out at lunch time or to pick up coffee. Put extras in high traffic areas, so that they’re highly visible and very convenient to grab.
Recognition and reward are important, as is some form of discipline for those not joining in. You want to reinforce the new behaviour you want them to follow and discourage team members from not following. The feel-good factor is high when people are getting on board – magnify that as much as possible.
Choose a simple way to show instant reward or course-correction – gold stars, results in access to doing a task people love doing, or invitation to internal events that are coveted and red dot stickers result in $1 fine on the spot or a chore people hate doing – instant reinforcement of the ‘good’ behaviour or ‘bad’ behaviour will help to guide your team in the right direction. Repetition is also helpful while building the new habits and breaking free from the old habits.
During this time you could create a tally on a whiteboard for visibility. It’s about observation, not judgement! We can only learn from what we’re aware of, so awareness is the key to this entire campaign. Share stories of positive environmental outcomes and track metrics on what you’re saving. For example if you drink one coffee a day and you remember your Keep Cup every day, that’s 365 cups that didn’t go to landfill!
As well as gold stars, you could tally individual progress and offer a points and reward system for example: each positive action equals 1 point, when someone accrues 30 points they can choose a reusable item from a selection you have available.
Here are some tips to implement Plastic Free July in your workplace:
- Make it fun!
Have a small party or event to kickstart the month (you can do this on Friday 30 June if you don’t work on Saturdays) it can be as simple as a morning or afternoon tea for 30 mins, just remember the catering needs to be without plastic!
- Invite the team to keep the single-use they use during July, they can create a pile, collage or art piece along the way, importantly they need to note how many of each type they use
- There can be fun prizes to keep them motivated along the way, come up with silly award names and keep it light-hearted
- Put some posters up (unlaminated)
Have the Top 5 items displayed so that people remember what they are. There are some downloads available on our website.
- Follow @plasticfreejuly – the original campaign creators for the most up to date ideas and inspiration
- Mark the days or weeks off
- Celebrate your success at the end of the month
Plastic Free July is about awareness, encouragement and changing things for the better. It’s not about perfect being the only option, or putting people down for not achieving 100% plastic-free. 100% is rare, and it’s not the main objective.
Have an incredible Plastic Free July and make sure to tag us on IG/FB or Linkedin: Plastic Free Southeast Asia.
And if you’re in Siem Reap, Cambodia, join us on 1 July to kick the month off with a party!