The Top 4 Actions of a Plastic Pollution Activist:
Turning Green is a global student-led movement devoted to cultivating a healthy, just and thriving planet through education and advocacy around environmentally sustainable and socially responsible choices. We inform, inspire, and mobilize a global network of students to become visionary catalysts for sustainable change in their lives, school campuses, and local communities. One of the most important issues we focus on is plastic pollution. Trash is already finding its way to the most isolated and untouched corners of our world. Just recently 38 million pieces of plastic were found on one of the world’s most remote islands, Henderson Island, which is part of the South Pacific Pitcairn group. Plastic pollution is not only affecting wildlife, but the quality of life for people around the world. And this is why we have to act now! Here are some tips on how to do it:
Buy from brands that promote zero-waste and contact those who don’t:
While there is a lot the individual can do, corporations have a bigger carbon footprint. Really think about what you are buying in the grocery store because every dollar you spend is casting a vote for the kind of world that you want to live in. One way to take charge in the plastic pollution movement is to contact brands and manufacturers directly.
“If you believe a company could be smarter about its packaging, make your voice heard. Write a letter, send a tweet, or hit them where it really hurts: Give your money to a more sustainable competitor.” – NRDC.org
Contact Your Representatives:
Guide to Contacting Your Representatives (tips from https://action.aclu.org/) While contacting your representative may seem intimidating, it is definitely not as hard as it sounds! Here are a couple tips to help you with the process:
Calling or Writing:
- FIND CONTACT INFORMATION OF YOUR REPRESENTATIVES:
Input your zip code or state and find out who your elected officials are:
- Find your local elected official in the senate
- Find your local elected officials in the House of Representatives
Find out their contact information to call or write:
- When you call, a legislative assistant will answer the phone and make sure to state who you are and be counted as a tally so they know you called.
- Follow these three steps to make the call or letter effective:
Keep it Brief: Being concise and to the point can get you a long way in the world of influencing your representatives. Put yourself in the shoes of a legislative aid reading hundreds of letters a day. Think about how much more engaged you would be by a short powerful argument that packs a punch rather than a long-rambling speech. Try to keep it as short and effective as possible.
Narrow your argument down to three important points: For example, if we are talking about the eliminating plastic to help contribute to the sustainability movement, focus on simple points that will really convince your representative. Helping the economy, divesting plastic waste from the landfill, and creating an overall healthier environment for people will help the representative see why it would be in their best interest to vote for the cause.
Personalize your argument: Write the letter from a community perspective and include a personal anecdote or story to highlight how much it matters to you and your family. If you have personally been affected by plastic pollution or now of anyone who has- talk about it! Real experiences that evoke emotion like a health problem, polluted neighborhood, or contaminated water source make a difference!
Sign an online petition:
There are so many online petitions now a days and some can be extremely effective! Organizations like @change.org and @Moveon. They may ask you to sign with a click, type in your email, or take a pledge- each of these actions can actually make a huge difference in the lawmaking process. Signatures can become victories.
“People on Change.org work with decision makers to find new solutions to the big and small issues that impact their lives.
Make a difference by starting your petition today. Change.org is a free, easy to use platform that connects you to a community of over 180 million passionate …”
When you see unnecessary plastic distributed, speak up!
As most of you know single-use straws end up in our oceans, which harm marine life. And there’s an easy solution – when ordering a drink, tell your waiter that you don’t need a straw. You create even more change if you use your voice! Talk to the restaurant’s manager or head of staff. While this may seem intimidating, it makes sense for the restaurant to eliminate straws-it may even save them money in the process! Compostable instead of disposable. Let them know that they can form a partnership with a local compost facility or garden who would be happy to take in the extra food waste.
Bring your zero waste kit everywhere you go:
Whether you are going to work, class, or you are going out with your friends, always remember to bring a zero waste kit. It doesn’t have to be too fancy – you can start with a set of cutlery, a stainless steel container and a reusable water bottle, and expand if you find that you need more stuff. You never know if there might be delicious food leftovers that you could potentially save for a later meal! . If you’re lacking on zero waste supplies, check out brands like @ukonserve or @kleankanteen for zero waste durable products that are both stylish and useful.
Refuse Single-Use Plastic Straws:
Have any of you seen that viral video of the turtle who had a straw stuck in its nostril? It’s a heart-wrenching video to watch, but when you think about it, it isn’t so surprising, considering that 500 million straws are used in the US every single day. This could fill over 127 school buses or circle the earth 2.5 times! Many of these straws land up in our oceans, which harm marine life. But there’s an easy solution – when ordering a drink, tell your waiter that you don’t need a straw. Go straw-free or if you feel like you need one, get a reusable straw to use instead. You can easily bring along metal straws like the ones from @ukonserve to go about your cafe-hopping adventures guilt-free.
Say NO to plastic bags:
Refusing plastic bags is one of the simplest ways to drastically cut down your plastic footprint. By bringing your own bag, or simply putting your item in your own backpack, you alone can save between 400 and 600 plastic bags per year! And don’t even think about grabbing plastic produce bags to put your fruit in when you do groceries. Just think – these foods have touched and even grown from soil and dirt long before arriving at the store. There are no microbes on them that your strong stomach acid can’t handle! As long as you wash them before you eat them, you’ll be fine. By eliminating this unnecessary item from our lives, we can save the lives of millions of marine animals who die every year due to suffocation or ingestion of plastic bags. In fact, more than 50% of dead turtles have plastic bags in their stomachs – we need to start valuing compassion for the Earth and all its creatures over convenience.
Buy in Bulk:
Not only are plastic straws a problem but any packaging that your food comes in can end up on the streets, lakes, and oceans! According to the EPA, containers and packaging adds up to 23% of the waste in U.S. landfills, and is the most prevalent form of trash found in our waterways. To avoid this, plastic pollution activists buy bulk products whenever they can. This means bringing mason jars (or free, used and cleaned peanut butter jars!), a cloth bag, or some other reusable containers to collect rice, beans, trail mix, nuts and more. Remember to take the tare weight of your container to make it easier on new and inexperienced cashiers! An extra bonus – by buying in bulk, you also save money (yes, it’s cheaper!).