5 Ways to Take Action on Plastics

1) Focus on Policy – stop future plastics production 

  • Call your representative to ask their support for S.984 Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act. Visit BeyondPlastic.org has a lot of information from petitions to detailed feedback on local state laws underway.
  • Put your congressional representatives on speed dial: US Senate & Congress Representative to ask how they are supporting legal efforts on climate and pollution. These calls can be very quick, and don’t have be done by US citizens, but residents (providing a zip code)
  • UN Treaty on Plastics – the specifics of this legally-binding treaty between 74 nations are being determined, for adoption in 2024. Ways to support this key legislation. Add your company to the list of those supporting this treaty.
  • Oppose a local “natural gas” project – there are many! Despite known impacts to climate, environmental pollution, habitat destruction and human health, there are many gas infrastructure projects underway. Some examples:
    • NYS – Danskammer (Hudson River), Greenridge (Finger Lakes), NRG Astoria (Queens). All of these are currently being contested along NYS new climate law which has a goal of zero electricity emissions by 2040. 
    • Sane Energy Project – organizes creative and effective protests around NYC for halting gas infrastructure projects.

2) Support a grassroots organization doing good work

Here are two featured in my film:

  • Rise St James – Led by Sharon Lavinge, they are actively fighting the Formosa Power Plant in so-called “Cancer Alley” along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana. 
  • Hipporoller Foundation – this is a great example of a perfect use for polyethylene: making unbreakable, rolling water transport systems that protect the safety and time of women in Africa. 

3) Pressure corporations using single-use packaging

  • There are active campaigns underway to target huge suppliers of plastic waste, such as Amazon, McDonalds, Starbucks. You can sign on to these, or @ them yourself on social media. Even smaller companies like Chopt have increased their plastics use during the pandemic, despite it being unnecessary. Ask them why – they will often respond.
  • Here is a list of the top corporate producers of plastics
  • Ask for paper take-out cups or containers. Most iced take-out drinks are offered in clear plastic cups – but it’s easy to just ask for them in the paper version. For example, a Starbucks ice-coffee works just as well in a paper cup than in the plastic.

4) Reduce your personal single-use consumption

Chances are you are already making good changes, like avoiding straws, bags and water bottles. Here are some suggestions to further reduce demand:

  • Switch a cleaning product – Consider finding plastic-free options for other products – shampoos, laundry, In addition to avoiding plastic packaging, the products themselves are much healthier.
  • Go DIY (which is much healthier and cheaper too)
    1. Make a cleaning spray with 50/50 white vinegar/water and an essential oil reduces chemical use and smells much nicer.
    2. Make your own yogurtis cheaper and healthier with significantly more probiotics
  • Make one type of single-use plastic a “hard no”
  • I’m trying to avoid clear clamshell plastics – commonly used for off-season berries or pre-packaged greens and ubiquitous everywhere. Despite looking like it can be recycled, it isn’t. 
  • Another horrible packaging design is plastic sachets which commonly have a high ratio of (plastic) package to product. 
  • Styrofoam is the worst. It literally remains forever, and breaks down easily.

5) Put your efforts into conversations

  • Make single-use plastics uncool.
    • Share what you are doing with friends and family. 
    • Make this a decision point when shopping. I do this with my daughter all the time.
  • Share my film or others such as The Story of Plastic (2019), or check out Plastic Pollution Coalition webinars from leaders across the globe on specific topics – from environmental racism to fertility impacts.
  • Consider other problematic synthetics – Fast fashion, Commercial Fishing, Fast food, Next-day shipping, etc.