We did it! Together, we successfully finished our first Plastic Free July EcoChallenge.

Our collective mission is to build a global movement that dramatically reduces plastic use and improves recycling, and the New England Aquarium’s network of staff, volunteers, and community members made a huge impact in our first year of participation.

two people pick up trash at Belle Isle Reservation with the Boston skyline in the background.

By the numbers

The impacts of our 291 participants throughout the month of July include:

  • Thousands of plastics kept out of landfills (984 plastic containers, 465 plastic straws, 466 plastic bottles, 827 pieces of plastic cutlery, 114 disposable cups)
  • 2,840 pieces of litter picked up
  • 2,788 minutes spent learning
  • 308 zero waste meals prepared
  • 111 petitions signed and 44 public officials contacted

All participants were given a chance to address their personal plastic usage and the prevalence of single-use plastics in our everyday lives.

What you said

A few great quotes from our enthusiastic participants highlight the variety of ways anyone can make an impact by changing habits and minds, and taking action to help protect the ocean:

“I’ve always wanted to try shaving with a straight razor. After a lot of research, this challenge motivated me to order one last night!”

“I wrote an email to city councilors to use water jugs and paper cups for July 4th and other events.  Two councilors followed through.  These are large events.  I received positive feedback about the lesser expense and ease of the jugs. This was published in an article. Community Garden used reusable plates and cups for their luncheon today.”

“I’ve had a really hard time finding a shampoo and conditioner that are eco-friendly but also good for my hair.  I’ve tried a couple of relatively expensive eco-shampoos that ended up drying out my scalp.  So I’m really excited to find a bar shampoo and conditioner that has been great to my hair and scalp, is eco-friendly, and plastic free (it even ships without any plastic filler in the box).”

“I was at road trip rest stop thinking about getting a snack, and every single thing to eat or drink was in plastic packaging. No oranges or bananas, no sodas in aluminum cans. Realizing this turned my stomach. I decided not to buy anything, I had enough snacks from home in the car to last the rest of the trip.”


We hope you are inspired by this challenge and take the lessons of Plastic Free July forward with you! You can create a lasting impact by educating those around you about the effects of plastic pollution on our oceans, promoting sustainable habits, and making changes – big and small – in your life to combat plastic waste all year round.

You can also get involved or become a member with the New England Aquarium to support our ongoing efforts to protect the blue planet.

Remember the four Rs and their order (Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.), spread the word, and we’ll see you at next year’s challenge!

Learn more!