🇺🇸 Beyond Plastics Groups & Affiliates Host 27 Events Across the Country, Calling for Plastics Reduction & Policy Change!🏛️
Beyond Plastics Local Groups & Affiliates hosted 27 events in 16 states during Plastic Free July, calling for solutions to end plastic pollution at the source. From banning artificial turf to single-use plastics bans to raising awareness of ocean plastic pollution, and advocating for extended producer responsibility policies for packaging, these groups made their voices heard!
Beyond Plastics local groups and affiliates hosted Plastic Free July events in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington. These included film screenings of The Story of Plastic, encouraging the New England Aquarium to drop plastic items and packaging from their gift shop, thanking legislators for sponsoring packaging reduction bills, urging agencies to better enforce waste reduction bills, mayoral proclamations, and calling for the repeal of state laws preempting local single-use plastic bag bans. All of the events called attention to the hazards of plastic and the systemic reasons for the plastic pollution crisis including the prolific production of plastics from fossil fuels, plastic waste exports, the failure of recycling for plastics, and the siting of production and disposal facilities in low-income and communities of color, who bear the greatest burden along every stage of plastics’ lifecycle.
Beyond Plastics Virtual Group
Attendees of the Stop Toxic “Chemical Recycling” Power Hour with Josephine Gingerich, Climate Reality Project and Dr. Jamala Djinn, Center for Environmental Health took about 2,000 actions (!!!) including emailing and calling federal and state representatives and the Biden Administration to oppose chemical recycling. Attendees also supported Massachusetts House Bill 3701, an act to prohibit waste-to-fuel projects from counting toward recycling.
Beyond Plastics Brooklyn, Beyond Plastics Queens, and 350NYC, a Beyond Plastics affiliate, alongside other environmental groups and New York City residents, delivered a letter to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Region 2 office in Queens calling for the agency to improve enforcement of two key plastic pollution reduction laws—the Bag Waste Reduction Law (a.k.a. the plastic bag ban) and the Bottle Bill. Despite New York State enacting a single-use plastic bag ban in 2020, many stores continue to give out single-use plastic bags at checkout. Beyond Plastics Queens co-founder, Carolina Korth pointed to the importance of enforcement of laws that are already on the books, commenting, "I make a point to shop locally in Queens as much as possible, and the number of stores still handing out plastic bags - mostly made of thicker plastic and touted as "reusable" - makes a mockery of the law. The state legislature and governor passed a bag ban for good reason, and it's the DEC's job to enforce it. Our job as activists is to call them out when they're not doing their job."
Beyond Plastics Queens also met with NY State Senator Mike Gianaris at a local zero-waste shop called Earth & Me in Astoria to thank him for co-sponsoring the Packaging Reduction & Recycling Infrastructure Act and urge him to make passing it one of his top priorities in the coming legislative session.
Beyond Plastics New Paltz delivered a sign-on letter to state Senator Michelle Hinchey thanking her for co-sponsoring the Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act (S4246-A/A5322-A) and urging her to champion the bill in the upcoming 2024 legislative session.
A few hours away, Beyond Plastics Onondaga-Cortland Counties held a Plastic Free Coalition Picnic.
Beyond Plastics affiliate Zero Waste Ithaca had a great turn out for their screening of The Story of Plastics documentary to support multiple policy efforts including a Skip the Stuff policy which founder Yayoi Koizumi and Raine Manley of NRDC had presented at a Thompkins County’s PEEQ Meeting in June.
Beyond Plastics Schenectady leader, Nancy Tudor kicked off a Skip the Stuff campaign as well, presenting to the Schenectady County Environmental Action Council.
Beyond Plastics Sullivan County held an event to thank Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther for co-sponsoring the NY Packaging Reduction & Recycling Infrastructure Act which would mandate a 50% reduction in single-use plastic packaging over 12 years, boost recycling efforts, and ban a dozen of the most toxic chemicals used in packaging. “We’re thrilled to pieces that Aileen has co-sponsored the PRRIA. It will be re-introduced next January and has a very good chance of passing now, after 10 years of trying to get packaging reduction passed in New York, we’ve had time to make it better and better learn from others’ mistakes,” said Rebekah Creshkoff of Beyond Plastics Sullivan County. The River Reporter covered their event and efforts.
Beyond Plastics Greater Boston members of Beyond Plastics Greater Boston gathered at the Massachusetts State House where they handed out postcards while speaking to legislators and the general public about current bills to reduce plastic pollution in Massachusetts. Greater Boston leader, Eileen Ryan, wore a necklace of found plastic straws and a hat decorated with empty plastic nip bottles which contained the message, “Expand the Bottle Bill and Ban Chemical Recycling”. After leaving the statehouse to meet with New England Aquarium management staff to urge the aquarium to align with their mission by removing plastic products and packaging from their gift shop, Ryan stressed, "We can't end the plastic crisis with individual choices. We need to advocate for plastic reduction legislation at every level of government and for institutional and corporate policy changes that promote reuse and refill options.”
Multiple members of our New Hampshire Network Plastics Working Group got their mayor or select board to issue plastic pollution reduction month proclamations to raise public awareness about the need for reduction and on-going policy campaigns such as Skip the Stuff.
Move Past Plastic led a well attended webinar on the Hazards of Synthetic Playing Surfaces with guest speaker Aaron Golembiewski, Head of Business Development for Turf Talents and moderator, AC from Halt-the-Harm Network.
Beyond Plastics Pollution virtual course alumni, volunteers, and Westfield Green Team members, Lois Kraus and Janette Spiezio, hosted a table at the Westfield Sweet Sounds Festival. Janette lumbered around in a variation of a plastic bag monster costume with Amazon bags stuffed full of plastic single-use packaging waste. Each bag represented the 7.1 pounds of waste generated on average daily by individuals and Spiezio’s suit held two weeks worth. The team called attention to the policy solutions needed to tackle the plastic pollution crisis, as well as enforcement of laws already on the books. They provided a checklist of action items including calling on the governor to enforce the Plastic Pollution Reduction Law by requiring businesses to work with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on solutions that do not leave delivery customers with bags they don’t want or need.
Less Plastic Please led virtual workshops with Transition Howard County and CEI on the elimination of plastics in daily life. Stephanie was inspired to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle after learning about plastic's harmful impact on animals and people. She looks to inspire others with her own journey of eliminating most single-use plastic and drastically reducing her trash.
On July 6, Beyond Plastics Gallatin Valley hosted “Perishable Plastic, the Ecosystem, and the Human Body” with a keynote speech by our Policy Director, Megan Wolff.
Shortly after, Megan made her way to Missoula to speak at “Plastics and Your Health”, an event hosted by Beyond Plastics affiliate Families for a Livable Climate at the Missoula Public Library. Advisory Board Member, Attorney Michael J. Lily and Isaac Cheek, Grassroots Conservation Coordinator with Cottonwood Environmental Law Center gave an overview of plastic policies in Montana. The event was also an opportunity to thank the many local and state supporters who helped with efforts to reduce plastic pollution in Montana this year.
rePurpose, the 100th member of our Beyond Plastics Local Groups and Affiliates network (yay!), set up a month-long display at the Langley Library on Whidbey Island to educate the community on impactful solutions to plastic pollution. On July 20, rePurpose launched their membership campaign - First 100 Founding Members. The group finished out the month with a home viewing of The Story of Plastic and an in-person letter writing event on Sunday, July 30. Welcome, rePurpose!
Beyond Plastics Greater Seattle screened The Story of Plastic and offered the opportunity to participate in a number of challenges around Plastic Free July such as BYOS for the month of July including a plastic audit, the coolest BYOS Kit/Mug contest, contacting local legislators, sending letters of support for Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging reduction and reporting audit results to Trashblitz.
Sustainable Tucson tabled at the Rillito Park Farmers Market to promote actions that reduce the use of disposable single-use packaging at home, work and on-the-go while collecting petition signatures for "Don't Burn Tucson", a campaign to prevent a polluting “waste-to-energy” facility from being built in Tucson. The petition calls on the mayor, city council members, and city manager to embrace zero waste measures to reduce both the generation and disposal of waste, while putting the community on the path to a more sustainable and climate-resilient future.
Waste Not Nevada County held a screening of The Story of Plastics followed by a community conversation about recycling and why it is not the solution to the plastic waste crisis. Over towards the coast, 350 Petaluma held a grocery store take-back event at Trader Joe’s using our handy plastic free take-back guide.
Novato-based Non-Toxic Schools participated in an event with local school district grounds managers and city parks employees in Marin County to support organic maintenance and improvements for grass playing fields as part of a pilot project to demonstrate that even with limited staff and drought conditions, natural grass playing fields can thrive and outperform synthetic turf.
FoCo Trash Mob celebrated Plastic Free July by engaging people in creating “active discards”. Participants place a piece of unwanted plastic waste in a mailer, write a letter urging the company responsible for it to reduce their single-use plastic waste, take a photo of it to post to social media, and then mail it back to the producer. “Active discards” is a term author Bea Johnson coined in her book Zero Waste Home. She said, “I believe that when we act on a piece of trash and send it back to its originator, we offset its negative environmental impact. While inaction condones waste and perpetuates it, action on the other hand, can initiate change. Shipping it back along with a suggestion letter shows dedication and provides a more powerful way to get your message across than words, alone. That piece of trash then becomes what I call an ‘active discard.’”
Beyond Plastics Greater Mankato, part of Mankato Zero Waste, had a group of 22 people, including students from the environmental club and conservation club participate in a parade where they handed out over 1,000 compostable "say no to plastic" stickers. One of their members had a bike with a skeleton made out of a plastic milk jug and a cart he pulled behind filled with plastic. The signs on the cart read, "Help me, I'm drowning in garbage", "What are we leaving for our grandchildren?", "There's no time to waste" and "Say no to throw away plastic."
On Saturday July 8, conservation organizations from the Quad Cities Earth Coalition and the Bi-State Conservation Action Network educated attendees of the Plastic Free Festival at Niabi Zoo about how to reduce their use of plastics and find effective alternatives like reusables.
The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Ohio Province set up a month-long display of swaps for plastic items to educate parishioners about the health risks of plastics and the alternative of reusables.
Beyond Plastics Greensboro had 60 people turnout for a screening of The Story of Plastics followed by a lively discussion.
Beyond Plastics Santa Fe, a project of Eldorado/285 Recycles, kicked off the month of events with their “Freedom from Plastics” float in the city’s Independence Day parade calling for plastics reduction and removing food scraps from the municipal waste stream. Member Stephanie Levy reflected, “From the time I was taught not to waste food as a child, I became focused on how to avoid waste. Eldorado/285 Recycles' four most successful projects – Beyond Plastics Santa Fe, community vermicompost installations, Zero Waste, and the creation and maintenance of the Santa Fe County Reuse Center – all satisfy my desire to work towards solutions to reduce waste, and help offset climate change.”
On July 20, Earth Ethics delivered a petition supporting reversal of the ban on single-use plastic bans to Senator Doug Broxson’s District Office and held a press conference on the hazards of plastics and why it is important for the State of Florida to give municipalities back their power to make decisions on how they deal with plastic pollution.
Clean Beach Miami opted for a saltier location, holding a cleanup on Miami Beach as a way to engage the local community on the issue of plastic pollution and the policy change needed to stop it.
Beyond Plastics Clearwater engaged tourists in a plastic-free installation on Clearwater Beach, to promote ditching plastics and transitioning to reusables.