Thousands take part in Plastic-free May in Flanders


The Plastic-free May campaign challenges everyone in Flanders to cut back on their casual consumption of plastics

‘Change must come from all sides’

This month is known as Mei Plasticvrij (Plastic-free May) in Flanders, a citizens’ initiative that has grown into a major campaign, complete with celebrity ambassadors. The goal of the initiative is to create awareness around how much plastic we consume – on a daily basis and without even thinking about it.

“Plastic pollution has escalated exponentially in a very short period of time,” Mies Maria Meulders, one of the three women behind the campaign, told VRT. “Every minute, a full truckload of plastic winds up in our oceans. The situation is untenable. We are way past the time when we needed to do something.”

So far, more than 9,400 people and 217 organisation or businesses have signed up to take part in the campaign. They pledge to change something in their lives to reduce their consumption of plastic.

The campaign website offers tips such as refusing plastic cups and straws, not packing your lunch or storing your food in plastic bags and recycling everything you possibly can, even if it means carrying it home rather than tossing it in the bin. It also offers a reminder of how much plastic surrounds us in our daily lives and offers non-plastic alternatives to products like hairbrushes, water bottles and diapers.

“So many people want to change this, but they feel helpless,” says the founding trio on the website. “We want to inspire them and to provide alternatives. At the same time, we want to encourage companies and shops to alter their purchasing habits and the government to implement new laws around plastic. For us, this is absolutely an all-encompassing situation: Change must come from all sides.”