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Shedd Aquarium Enlists the Public to Help Celebration Plastic Free July

Month-Long Offerings Aim to Curb Plastic Pollution and Protect Wildlife

June 30, 2021

Two reusable bags sit on a shelf.

As the national campaign called “Plastic Free July” kicks off today, Shedd Aquarium is asking the public to get active in the movement to curb plastic pollution. From a virtual webinar series to petitions and advocacy opportunities, the aquarium hopes the public can build momentum toward a cause that aims to save aquatic wildlife by prioritizing reusable materials over single-use plastic.

The month-long series of activities comes after a June 2021 report indicated that single-use plastic materials are less safe, costly to taxpayers and businesses, result in aquatic pollution and contribute to environmental crises such as climate change.

“Throughout the pandemic, many businesses and individuals have reversed progress on reducing plastic pollution by turning back to disposable plastic materials,” said Jaclyn Wegner, director of conservation action at Shedd Aquarium. “As the world reopens and as we continue to heed the advice of scientists, we know that reuse always wins—for people, our planet and our bottom line. During Plastic Free July, Shedd Aquarium hopes to re-instill confidence in reusable materials and put us back on track toward plastic-free waterways.”

As Plastic Free July begins today, Shedd is empowering the public to take action. Below are a series of free events and activities to help the Chicago community, and beyond, participate.


TODAY: Tune into the National Reuse Rally on Thursday, July 1

Representing the Midwest region, Shedd Aquarium is joining the National Reuse Rally on July 1 at 6 p.m. CST to make the case for reusables in restaurants and other venues. The rally will feature other key speakers and actors in the reuse movement and provide educational information on the safety and benefits of reusable food ware.

How to Act: Register online at

Sign the “Reopen with Reuse” Petition

Sign the petition! Shedd, environmental organizations and the public are rallying together to ask the hospitality and entertainment industry to “reopen with reuse,” meaning they should reopen their operations by using reusable service-ware where possible instead of leaning on disposable plastic materials as many have throughout the pandemic.

How to Act: Sign the petition online at

Join Shedd-Hosted Lunchtime Webinars on Wednesdays

Shedd Aquarium is hosting a new series of webinars throughout July where experts from the Chicago area will talk about why reuse always wins, opportunities and challenges with compostable food ware, and federal policies on the horizon to help Americans address plastic pollution at its source.

How to Act: Register online for upcoming webinars at the links below

  • TOPIC: When looking at human health, environmental footprint and even a business's bottom line, switching to reusables in food service is a win-win-win situation. Experts will discuss various benefits of reusables as our society combats the negative impacts of plastic production and pollution. 
  • TOPIC: A panel of Chicago area compost haulers will discuss how good composting habits can help to reduce our dependence on plastics and elevate urban farming. These experts will explain how you can do your part to reduce waste in landfills, promote reuse and support local businesses – all through composting! 
  • TOPIC: Shedd plastic experts will discuss the aquarium’s Let’s Shedd Plastic initiative and review how participating restaurants are working to eliminate their plastic dependence. Listen in to find ways to help at home and how to support businesses working to make an impact. 
  • TOPIC: Congress and local policymakers are making movements to tackle plastic pollution at its source, but they rely on the voices of their constituents to move legislation forward. Policy and plastic pollution experts come together in this webinar to break down bills that aim to prevent pollution long-term.

Tell Congress You Want Plastic-Free Waters

Raise your voice to stop plastic pollution! As plastic production continues to rise, so does the amount of plastic polluting our oceans, rivers, lakes and streams. This plastic is impacting hundreds of species of wildlife and threatening entire aquatic ecosystems. That’s why Congressional representatives are looking upstream to stop the pollution at its source. Building off Illinois Senator Dick Durbin's Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act, Representative Lowenthal's (CA) amendments to the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684) will prevent the discharge of plastic pellets into our waterways and protect our communities and wildlife to create a healthier, more equitable future for us all. Join us in contacting your members of Congress to ask them to prevent plastic pellet pollution.

How to Act: Send a letter to Congress in under 2 minutes at

Choose Reusables

Single-use plastic can be hard to avoid but being aware of what you use and shopping smart can help you refuse it everywhere you go. Replace single-use disposable plastic items with reusable items like reusable water bottles or bamboo to-go cutlery.

How to Act: Make conscious decisions to remember your reusables, or stock up on reusable through Shedd’s reuse-friendly shop.

Take Action Year-Round with Surge

Pushing for solutions to plastic pollution is essential year-round. Shedd Aquarium recently formed a new, global community of environmental advocates and “change agents” who have pledged to jump into action and support advocacy efforts that ultimately safeguard aquatic species and nature. Called Surge, the new digital platform will equip its followers with the knowledge and tools necessary to take individual actions in their daily lives and push for solutions to issues including plastic pollution, climate change, environmental justice, equal access to nature, and more. 

How to Act: Join Surge online at

VISUALS: Relevant photos are available for download:
Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium