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Plastic-Free July at Ryerson: a success

August 17, 2020

Plastic-Free July is a global campaign, external link that aims to raise awareness about the amount of single-use plastics that we consume. Much of the world’s plastic sadly ends up in our landfills and pollutes our waterways, impacting our ecosystems and harming wildlife. Only 9% of plastics in Canada are recycled, which is why reducing our plastic consumption is critical. This past July, Ryerson was part of the month-long campaign for the first time. With over 90 people participating, it was a great way to bring the Ryerson community together during a time when people have been impacted by remote work and physical distancing.

Behind the event

The Sustainability Office invited Ryerson students, faculty and staff to join the Plastic-Free July Challenge, a series of activities and actions encouraging them to re-evaluate their plastic consumption habits for the entire month. Whether their aim was to cut plastic usage to zero, or to simply reduce it, people took on this challenge to adapt their way of living to be more environmentally conscientious.

Participants were challenged to eliminate single-use items by taking action in six main categories:

  • food
  • lifestyle 
  • pet 
  • family
  • community
  • and personal care 

This year’s competition

In total, there were

individual participants


3000 completed actions

Teams included:

  • The Chang School Department
  • TRSM Academic Success Centre
  • Social Ventures Zone
  • SciXchange
  • Athletics and Recreation x 2
  • Child and Youth Course Union
  • Nutrition and Food Student Union
  • FMD
  • BOSP
  • Team X
  • Sustainability Ambassadors

Other highlights included:

  • the Social Venture Zone’s blog post on their Plastic-Free July reflections 
  • TRSM Academic Success Centre’s tweets, external link
  • the Athletics and Recreation Department teaming up to complete challenges 
  • FMD inventing some very creative and practical challenges 
  • SciXChange making changes in their daily lives and tweeting, external link along the way
  • the Nutrition Course Union excelling in the food action category


The results were tight, and we were absolutely blown away by the efforts of all teams!

Chang School Department (Team category)
Most creative action - developed and implemented a Plastic-Free July pledge and shared an Indigenous Algonquin Water Song with their peers.

Kitty Choi (Individual category)
Looked for innovative ways to reduce her plastic consumption by connecting with neighbours to share and swap items instead of purchasing them brand new.

Looking forward

Many participants identified that it was an excellent way to bring their team together to discuss topics that they had not had the opportunity to discuss before. It made them reflect not only on their own habits, but also how they can create change year-long in their own departments.

Hosting the campaign during COVID-19 was challenging but also extremely rewarding. It inspired people to recognize places where plastic reduction is possible and gave insight into possible actions to reduce plastic waste footprint. Although COVID-19 reignited a push towards single-use plastics, it also presents the opportunity to reflect on how much plastic we produce and how we can better manage it.


If you have any questions, please contact Sharmilla Raj, sustainability coordinator, at or 416-979-5000, ext. 6273.