It is not about someone doing everything, it is about everyone doing something. That’s the message that Plastic Free July founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz has about her annual campaign and how the community should approach it. Since the WA woman started the Plastic Free July challenge in Fremantle 10 years ago, it has become a global movement. More than 250 million people from 77 countries participated in last year’s challenge. Tomorrow, Ms Prince-Ruiz will launch a book telling the inspiring story behind the international environmental campaign. Albany’s Emu Point Cafe gets a big mention in the book for its Cup Exchange program, an idea which went viral and sparked changes in cafes across the nation. The Albany case study is one of her favourites examples of how a simple local initiative can have a big impact. “I was doing a talk in Albany and I was going to get a coffee at Emu Point. I noticed a basket of cups and there was a sign for these reusable cups that you can take if you forget your own,” she said. “It was a great really simple initiative — no money exchanged — it was just about making it easy for people to do the right thing. “I took a photo and shared it on social media and it ended up with 15,000 people liking it and it went viral worldwide. “It turned out that Melissa Joan Hart, who played Sabrina the Teenage Witch, had shared it and she gave them a shout-out. “The greatest thing is that people were tagging their local cafes to do it and offering to donate mugs and it started conversations.” The Cup Exchange still runs at Emu Point Cafe, and other cafes around the area followed the concept, creating a “new normal” for takeaway coffee. She said the Plastic Free July challenge was about refusing to use single-use plastic for the entire month — and hopefully finding out that it was not hard to do. “This is an invitation for people to do something practical in their own lives to reduce their use of single use plastics to be part of the solution to the plastic waste problem,” she said. “It is small steps, from remembering your reusable bags, refusing unnecessary plastics like straws and choosing to make purchases with less plastic packaging and other simple swaps like liquid soap to plastic soap. “Just doing the challenge for a month forms new habits. “Before the bag ban, we all had reusable shopping bags but we left them at home and it forced us to take our own — that is what Plastic Free July does.” Last year, the challenge reduced each participant’s household waste and recycling by an average of 5 per cent (23kg), which she said already achieved half of the Australian Government’s target for 2030. Sea Shepherd Albany and Great Southern are also encouraging people to take time in July to think about the effects that plastic has on our environment, especially on the coast. Albany and Great Southern chapter co-ordinator Jamie Kiddle said while our beaches looked pristine a closer inspection sometimes showed the hidden microplastics washing up on to our shores. “We do see a lot of plastic on Great Southern beaches,” he said. “While general litter is still an issue, microplastics are the biggest item we find. “Places like Anvil Beach, Muttonbird Beach and Nanarup Beach are always hotspots due to ocean currents transporting small pieces of plastic. “Discarded and broken pieces of fishing equipment are also a big issue, and twine from nets and small pieces of net from commercial fishing equipment regularly wash up on our beaches, especially Nanarup and Cosy Corner. “This ecological disaster is affecting our marine environment, with fish and seabirds ingesting them and introducing plastics into the food chain.” Sea Shepherd’s onshore crew will be doing a July clean-up at Anvil Beach, the worst beach for microplastics in the region. The local branch announces details of beach-cleans on their Facebook page. To register visit plasticfreejuly.org.