Q&A with Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, Founder of Plastic Free July

Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, Founder and Executive Director of the Plastic Free Foundation, a nonprofit organization that organizes the annual Plastic Free July challenge, has more than twenty-five years’ experience in the world of environmental and waste management, community engagement, and sustainability behaviour change. In 2011, Prince-Ruiz started the Plastic Free July Challenge, where, what started as a grassroots campaign with a handful of participants in Western Australia has now grown to millions of people across 170 countries taking up the challenge to refuse single-use plastic every year.

What motivated you to start the Plastic Free July challenge? 

It really started with the challenge but I’ve always been mindful of how the changes on land have an impact on our waterways. I lived on a farm when I was younger, where we had to lose the farm when I was eight. This small farm was in Southwestern Australia, where we cleared natural brush. As the clearing happened, salt rose to the surface and there had to be clearing bans. I was so devastated, because we loved our farm and didn’t want to move.

Seeing the amount of plastic that exists really spurred me to start the challenge. When I visited a recycling facility and saw the volume of waste we produce, and understood the complex process of what happens to our waste once we throw it away, it made me realize that I wasn’t doing the planet a favor by filling up the recycling bin.

Oniracom; the BYOBottle Campaign!

For decades Oniracom has proudly supported all of the Jack Johnson camp’s nonprofit initiatives as a marketing and technology partner including the Kokua Hawaii Foundation and its Kokua Festival, Plastic Free Hawaii, Johnson Ohana Foundation, All At Once, and most recently BYOBottle.org.

The collaborative BYOBottle Campaign encourages artists, venues, festivals, businesses and fans to reduce plastic pollution in the music industry by promoting reusable water bottles and water refill stations both backstage and front of house at music events.

6 Top Music Industry Greening Challenges & Solutions

When I started working with the live event industry to reduce the environmental footprint of large events, festivals and tours almost three decades ago, recycling bins didn’t exist. Bands weren’t touring on biodiesel-fueled buses and seeking out organic and locally-grown meals. Live Nation didn’t exist, and hadn’t yet hired sustainability coordinators at 14 venues.

Jack Johnson: 2017-18 All At Once Sustainability Awards for venues, festivals, promoters

“Jack is proud to announce the 2018 All At Once Sustainability Awards to acknowledge outstanding music industry recipients, honoring elite venues, festivals and promoters who excelled in waste reduction and sustainability and made every effort to meet Jack’s Environmental Rider during his 2017-18 World Tour. The recipients join the ranks of previous winners, including the Santa Barbara Bowl, Merriweather Post Pavilion and the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, all of which continue to take their venue greening to the next level…”

PPC: Wonderfruit Festival Eliminates Single-Use Plastic

“Wonderfruit, Thailand’s pioneering, sustainable celebration of art and music has eliminated single-use plastic for its upcoming festival Dec. 14-17 in Pattaya, Thailand. The move is in line with Wonderfruit’s fundamental ethos of sustainability and community.

After joining Plastic Pollution Coalition earlier this year, Wonderfruit made major changes to reduce the festival’s plastic footprint:

  • “Wonderers” are encouraged to bring their own bamboo or steel flasks and bottles.

  • All food will be served on compostable tableware. Wonder Feasts will be served on areca nut palm leaf plates.

  • Drinks will be poured into cups made of bagasse, the fibre that remains after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice.

  • Reusable steel cups will be available for purchase…”

PPC: Behind the Scenes of Jack Johnson’s Plastic-Free Summer Tour

“All the lights above us, you can see the different colors, all those little bits are from the beaches in Hawaii, which is kind of like a filter out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, collecting all the plastic that’s floating in,” said musician and activist Jack Johnson to the crowd of cheering fans at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Tuesday night.

The Monday and Tuesday night shows were his first events to be 100 percent free of single-use plastic: no single-use plastic cups or water bottles were for sale at the venue. After both shows, event organizers were stunned to see no garbage anywhere on the ground. How did they do it?”

PPC: Refill Revolution at Bonnaroo Diverts 2 million Plastics Cups and Water Bottles from Landfill

“As Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival came to a close on Sunday, John Borg of Steelys Drinkware together with Plastic Pollution Coalition announced that more than 2 million plastic cups and water bottles were diverted from landfill through the Refill Revolution program since the inception of this program. 2017 marked the fourth year that Plastic Pollution Coalition partnered with Bonnaroo and Steelys to provide Refill Revolution branded reusable steel cups that eliminate the need for single-use plastic cups and bottles. 

This year, a number of musicians, actors, artists, and leaders added their voices to the Refill Revolution movement, including U2’s The Edge, actor and activist Adrian Grenier, and leaders of environmental organizations…“

PPC: Partying and Plastic: The UK Festival Circuit

“In the spring of 2015, Melinda Watson at RawFoundation UK talked to me about supporting their Making Waves Plastic-Free Festival campaign at Glastonbury Festival. As well as providing a series of images for their activities at the event, it was my desire to make new, discreet photographic work—a type of personal witness statement.

For more than 20 years, I have been making work about the “plastic problem.” In human history, much of the art has serviced religion. Perhaps now in the 21st century, art can be of service in helping humans learn how to live more sustainably…“

PPC: Outside Lands Joins the Refill Revolution

‘‘PPC member Steelys Drinkware provided free water refill stations and stainless steel cups and bottles; helps Outside Lands divert nearly 300,000 single-use plastic cups and bottles from the waste stream.

There was much to celebrate at the tenth anniversary of Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival Aug. 11-13 in San Francisco, California, USA. Artists such as The Who, Gorillaz, Metallica, Lorde, Tove Lo, and Dawes drew more than 200,000 people to the 3-day festival, and the festival upped its greening efforts by enlisting PPC member Steelys Drinkware to help divert nearly 300,000 single-use plastic cups and bottles from waste…“