What is the Plastic Free Challenge?

The Problem

Did you know?  Scientists project that there will be more tons of plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.

With tons of plastic being produced and used every year, the impact of plastic pollution on our planet is growing exponentially. Plastic debris ranges in size from large containers to microscopic pellets, and this pollution is impacting our lands, coasts, streams, rivers, and oceans.  


  • Plastics don’t break down, they break into smaller and smaller pieces. 
  • About half of plastic items are used once and then thrown away, especially bottles, bags, carryout containers, and straws.
  • Most plastics end up in landfills where they can leach pollutants into the soil and groundwater.
  • Some plastics end up in oceans and other waterways where they can be ingested by fish and other marine
  • Plastics make up about 50 % of trash collected by EcoAction Arlington volunteers in Arlington’s parks and waterways.
  • Plastic production consumes an estimated 8 percent of global oil production.

Be Part of the Solution

While eliminating single-use plastics from our daily lives can seem like an overwhelming task, even a few simple changes–such as bringing reusable bags when shopping or skipping single use water bottles and straws–can make a big difference. The Plastic Free Challenge, taking place from August 20 to October 19, is a regional campaign challenging you to reduce  your use of plastic with a focus on single-use items like straws and water bottles. Join us in the Plastic Free Challenge, and we will help you along the way with encouragement and useful tips for practical alternatives to commonly used plastic items.  Weekly challenges and prize drawings will help connect you with other participants and make the challenge fun.


  • When does the Plastic Free Challenge take place? The Plastic Free Challenge is taking place from August 20 through October 19, but you can join at any time along the way.
  • How much time will this take?  We’ve organized the Plastic Free Challenge so you can take on as many or as few activities as you like. 
  • What if I’ve already stopped using plastic bags, single-use water bottles and straws?  We’ve put together the challenge with a range of activities so there should be something for everyone. For plastic-free experts, please engage others in your household, workplace, place of worship, or neighborhood. By getting others involved, we can multiply our impact and get more people combating plastic pollution. Please also consider forming a team to take the Plastic Free Challenge.
  • Does it matter where I live? The Plastic Free Challenge partners will be focusing our outreach in the District, Maryland and Virginia but the Challenge is open to anyone living anywhere!