Our Ocean: Youth Leadership Summit

April 15 , 8:00 am April 17 , 5:00 pm EDT

Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) is honored to co-host the 7th annual Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit (OOYLS) in Athens, Greece from April 15-17, 2024 in cooperation with Our Ocean Greece (OOC-9) and with support from the Ministry of the Environment and Energy of Greece (MoEE).

This event marks a significant opportunity to engage and empower the next generation of global ecopreneurs and ocean leaders by bringing together their visionary ideas and solutions for the greatest challenges facing our ocean. In 2024, the Summit will be fully integrated into the main Our Ocean Conference and will embody the overall theme: ‘Our Ocean, An Ocean of Potential’. 

This year, the Summit will address the Conference’s six areas of action (Climate Change, Marine Pollution, Maritime Security, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Sustainable Blue Economy, and Sustainable Fisheries) while emphasizing four key focus areas:  

  • Sustainable tourism in coastal areas and islands
  • Green shipping
  • Reduction of marine plastic and microplastic pollution
  • Green transition in the Mediterranean

Attending OOYLS will empower young leaders to gain valuable experience and knowledge in the ocean sector, expand their network, and develop their professional skill sets while making a positive impact on ocean health and resilience. 

Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) Members come from a wide range of sectors and are aligned in their mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on communities and ecosystems around the world. The Coalition Spotlight is our monthly blog to uplift and showcase their work, giving our readers an inside look at some of these influential change-makers. This month, we highlight three members who are building a plastic-free solutions platform, creating epic dining experiences through edible tableware, and reestablishing our sacred relationship with water.

I’m Plastic Free

Sustainability is becoming a substantial determining factor in consumer purchasing decisions. But making conscious decisions in today’s consumer landscape can sometimes be challenging. Confusing labels, a lack of transparency and standardization, and misleading greenwashing campaigns have created skepticism as to which brands deliver on their promises and are in fact better for the environment. 

PPC Business Member I’m Plastic Free connects eco-conscious individuals and small businesses with solutions to plastic pollution, allowing for better informed and trusted purchasing decisions. The database is simple and easy to navigate and free of charge for users. The businesses and products that are featured on the site are individually vetted according to a robust set of values, including whether or not businesses offer zero-waste and plastic-free packaging, to whether products are nontoxic and cruelty free. This process of due diligence gives users a high level of confidence when making healthier and more sustainable switches, and is why in recent weeks the site has seen exponential traction. 

Owner and founder Simona Paganetto sees biomaterials and regenerative replacements to plastic products as a necessary first step in a just transition away from a petrochemical-dependent global economy. Designed as a one-stop-shop for knowledge and vetted products, her site offers: a directory of plastic-free products and solutions; hundreds of educational blogs; creative ways to adopt plastic-free habits; advice on how to lower your microplastic exposure risk; and ways to connect with innovative sustainable businesses. 

See I’m Plastic Free’s accolades and press coverage here, and check out the site to begin making more sustainable decisions in your daily life!

Stroodles

On a mission to prevent pollution from disposable plastic foodware products, U.K.-based company Stroodles offers a line of products that are changing the industry, one Stroodle at a time. From pasta straws to edible spoons, cups, and even plates, their products are made from simple, flour-based, vegan ingredients that biodegrade rapidly without compromising functionality. Their pasta straws have become quite famous in the bar and restaurant world, as they hold a solid structure even when sitting in a drink for more than an hour, bringing pizzazz to any beverage and creating an unforgettable dining experience! Enjoying food and drinks from your favorite neighborhood spot doesn’t need to create single-use plastic pollution. Stroodles makes it easy for consumers and restaurants to showcase their commitment to sustainable alternatives and inspire others to do the same.

In addition to tackling the plastic waste crisis by displacing plastic tableware with zero-waste products, Stroodles is also engaging people through educational projects aimed at plastic waste awareness. Their Stroodles Sustainability Awareness Initiative helps youth and community groups understand the impact of single-use plastic on our shared planet. Projects include collaborative art sculptures made from plastic straw pollution and plastic pollution education from their fun “Mr. Stroodles” cartoon character. 

Stroodle products have been well received by the media since their inception, and Chief Stroodler Maxim even tried his luck on the BBC entrepreneurial pitch show “The Dragons Den,” putting his company on a path to mainstream success. Stroodles has expanded their customer base in recent years to include partners like the Marriott, ibis hotels, and the Southbank Centre. In September, they announced the exciting acquisition of the German company Spoontainable GmbH, positioning them to scale across Europe.

Waterspirit

Waterspirit is a spiritual ecology nonprofit that informs, inspires, and empowers people of all beliefs to deepen their consciousness of the sacredness of water and the interdependence of all Earth’s systems. Waterspirit educates, advocates, and collaborates in order to promote the individual transformations and systemic changes needed to sustain water and all life on Earth. 

Waterspirit’s advocacy campaigns are guided by principles of integral ecology and environmental justice. They seek to hear the cry of the Earth and respond to the most vulnerable populations through community-driven initiatives and public policy efforts. Recent efforts include supporting a Bottle Bill, the Green Amendment Campaign in New Jersey, and working on the Poor People’s Campaign to help promote the Right to Clean Water. Learn more about their major campaigns and ways you can get involved in your community by visiting Waterspirit’s Advocacy page.

The organization also offers educational programs for schools, camps, clubs, and community groups on the topics of water conservation, nature exploration, ecosystems, environmental justice, green infrastructure, youth civic engagement, and religion and ecology. They lead public events which include seasonal celebrations, rain barrel workshops, seal monitoring, beach clean ups, eco-anxiety support groups, and more. To see upcoming public programs visit Waterspirit’s Event Calendar.

Recently, Waterspirit’s Executive Director, Blair Nelsen, attended the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago. This week of presentations, ceremonies, and prayers brought together thousands of people from many different faith traditions for connecting, community-building, and for envisioning a better future. During the Parliament, Blair presented on a panel entitled “Sacred Water in a Climate Changed Era” with inspirational panelists. Learn more about Waterspirit’s involvement at the United Nations here.

Does your business or organization align with our mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts? Apply to join our global movement.

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October 1, 2023 , 8:00 am October 31, 2023 , 5:00 pm EDT

This October, take part and join thousands of volunteers across the world gathering evidence, raising awareness and calling for an end to nurdle (plastic pellet) pollution! Anyone can take part, whether you are an individual or an organization. 

You can make an impact by:

  • Taking part in the Great Global Nurdle Hunt!
  • Sharing your nurdle hunt on social media to help raise awareness 
  • Asking local organizations to visit our information hub to work together on solutions
  • Using the results from the Great Global Nurdle Hunt to call on decision makers to address nurdle pollution 

If you are new to nurdle hunting, find out how to hurdle hunt here. You can download participant packs that are full of information, resources, nurdle hunting tips, social media resources and more to help you to take part and organize your own hunts! 

November 22, 2023 , 8:00 am November 23, 2023 , 5:00 pm EST

Register today for the 2nd International Symposium on Plastics in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Region, which will take place in Reykjavík, Iceland, November 22-23, 2023. The Early Bird registration deadline for the Arctic Plastics Symposium was extended until September 30, 2023. ECS and Indigenous Peoples can now apply for funding opportunities until September 28, 2023.

The symposium will shed light on the latest findings on the extent and impact of plastic pollution in the Arctic and near Arctic Regions. The Plenary Opening will be provided by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir and moderated by the Senior Arctic Official of Iceland Ambassador Pétur Ásgeirsson. The Ministerial Panel Discussion will be moderated by the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, providing also closing remarks. Check out the draft program of the Symposium here.

Plastic Pollution Coalition’s incredible and growing group of Artist Allies are channeling their creativity to inspire positive change on the issue. Together, this diverse group of creators illuminates plastic pollution facts and solutions across a wide range of mediums, from performance pieces to giant sculptures made of discarded plastic stuff.

Let’s explore a few of our Artist Allies’ recent projects that shine a light on the plastic pollution crisis—and the solutions we need to solve this urgent problem.

Alvaro Soler Arpa

Alvaro Soler Arpa (Spain) is an artist who uses his knowledge of anatomy, talent for drawing, and interest in organic forms to express concern for human impact on the planet and its inhabitants. His creations, especially his sculptures made of animal bones, wires, and plastic waste collected in landfills, convey the struggle of survival on a planet plasticized by people. Emphasizing the consequences of mass consumer culture for wildlife and the planet, Soler Arpa honors the struggle of nature to move forward, despite all odds. Creatures from his “Toxic Evolution” series (2011–2016) were recently shown at Himmel Unter Berlin in Germany.

Pam Longobardi

Pam Longobardi (U.S.) is a mixed-media artist who uses plastic recovered from beaches around the world to depict how consumerism is transforming the ocean and planet. In her most recent project, she has catalogued photos of plastic artifacts and testimony from her expeditions and beach combing between 2005 and 2021, with contributions from others who have similarly interacted with plastics on shorelines: Ocean Gleaning (2022).

We are remaking the world in plastic, and many objects found on beaches are hauntingly creaturelike, humanlike, or stonelike—natural, even though they are unnatural pieces of plastic. I do think the ocean is communicating with us through this plastic. The ocean is giving these messages to anyone who wants to pay attention.

— Pam Longobardi

Nicole Stott

Nicole Stott (U.S.) is retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and was the first astronaut to paint watercolor in space. She is a veteran of two space flights, logging 104 days living and working aboard both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. Witnessing the beauty of the world from the perspective of space is something Nicole wishes to share to motivate people to appreciate and care for our planet. She is a founding member of the Space for Art Foundation which works to inspire children experiencing personal and planetary challenges to imagine and create a positive future for themselves through art.

My hope is that we can all embrace we are crew, not passengers, here on Spaceship Earth.

— Nicole Stott

Tomfoolery

Tomfoolery (UK) is a poet and filmmaker who uses spoken word and visual storytelling to create captivating viral videos about real-world issues. Recently, he partnered with Plastic Pollution Coalition to create The Plastic Age, the story of humanity’s relationship with plastic, from extraction of its fossil fuel ingredients, to production, disposal, and pollution in the environment and our bodies. Tomfoolery also highlights the solutions we need to solve it—and offers encouragement as we forge ahead.

Benjamin Von Wong

View on Instagram: @vonwong

Benjamin Von Wong (Canada) creates visually stunning, monumental mixed-media sculptures designed to arrest the attention of viewers. He is well known for his creations “Turn off the Plastic Tap” and “Skull of Satoshi,” which bring attention to the dangers of continued plastics production and bitcoin mining’s climate impacts. Ahead of the second negotiating session of the UN Plastics Treaty (INC-2), held in Paris, France, in May, Von Wong created a 15-foot “Perpetual Plastic Machine,”  commissioned by Greenpeace, to communicate “the toxic relationship between fossil fuels and plastic production.” Von Wong illuminated his piece with fire to help further connect the dots between fossil fuels and plastic pollution—and the fact that real solutions go beyond simply cleaning up, recycling, or incinerating (burning). 

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Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) Members come from a wide range of sectors and are aligned in their mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on communities and ecosystems around the world. The Coalition Spotlight is our monthly blog to uplift and showcase their work, giving our readers an inside look at some of these influential change-makers. This month’s edition features toxic-free cleaning products, an organization focused on protecting the oceans, a woman-owned aluminum water company, and the group behind a global movement to make July (and beyond) plastic free.

Meliora Cleaning Products

Ever wonder what chemicals are in your cleaning products and if they are safe to use in your home? Although many compounds in cleaning agents can pose serious environmental and human health concerns, there are still no federal laws in the United States requiring manufacturers to disclose ingredients in home cleaning products. Additionally, most of these products come in plastic packaging that pollutes during every stage of its existence, from extraction, to production, transportation, use, and disposal. And plastics are wasteful; consider, for example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 641 million laundry jugs are used each year in the United States, most of which are never recycled.

PPC Business Member Meliora Cleaning Products manufactures home cleaning and laundry products that are safe for you and your family, planet-friendly, and effective! They are a woman-owned B Corp, and member of 1% for the Planet that has been certified by Leaping Bunny and MADE SAFE for their toxic- and cruelty-free products and business operations. All of Meliora’s products are free of single-use plastics, and their refill and reuse packaging is predominantly plastic free. By making concentrated washing powders, solid soap bars, and soap refill tablets, Meliora eliminates the need for added preservatives and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of Meliora Cleaning Products, and we applaud their success in changing the status quo of the cleaning products industry, prioritizing human and environmental health above all else. Most recently, their laundry powder was featured on Good Morning America in a segment on how reducing waste can help save you money. They have also been working hard to expand their grocery partnerships across the country, making it easier for people to ditch plastic water bottles. Lastly, Meliora co-founder Kate Jakubas recently attended the United Nation’s Second Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution

(INC-2) in Paris, France, and was a signatory in Plastic Pollution Coalition’s Business Member Statement, which was delivered to the U.S. delegation and submitted to the UN. Meliora is a true mission-based business, in practice and action.

Oceana

In honor of World Oceans Day on June 8, we want to celebrate the largest international advocacy group solely dedicated to ocean conservation, Oceana. A close ally and Organization Member of Plastic Pollution Coalition, Oceana is dedicated to protecting and restoring the abundance and biodiversity of the world’s oceans. They do this through a series of interconnected campaigns that are grounded in science, focused on measurable outcomes, and supported by their team of multi-disciplinary experts in the field who work to usher in policies that best protect and support oceans and the ecosystems they sustain. 

Since 2001, Oceana has protected nearly 4 million square miles of ocean and influenced over 225 pieces of legislation for the seas, which cover over two thirds of the entire planet. Their campaigns address threats to the oceans holistically, by addressing the root causes of harm to coastal communities, marine ecosystems, fish populations, biodiversity, and more. One of the most widely recognized and immediate threats to ocean health is plastic pollution, which Oceana has put at the top of their list of priorities. They recently released a report revealing that Coca-Cola has backtracked on their public commitment to increase the reusability of their product portfolio, and actually added billions of single-use plastic bottles to their production output. They have also called on Amazon shareholders to vote on a resolution that would hold the e-commerce giant accountable for their astronomical amounts of plastic packaging waste they create every year, most of which isn’t recycled and ends up in landfills or the environment. Although Amazon’s shareholder vote calling on the company to address its plastic pollution fell just short of a majority at the end of May, Oceana continues to put public pressure on big corporate polluters to disclose and reduce their global plastic packaging footprints. 

Find more of their recent victories and ways to take action on their website. 

Open Water 

The bottled water industry is one of the fastest-growing industries on Earth, growing 73% from 2010–2020. More than 1 million bottles of water are sold every minute across the world, piling up in our environment and breaking up into harmful micro- and nano-plastic particles, degrading ecosystems across the entire planet. Although it’s imperative we move away from single-use consumption towards systems of reuse and circularity, we must find non-plastic alternatives to address the immediate concerns of single-use plastic pollution. 

Open Water is the world’s first Climate Neutral certified canned water company with the sole mission to rid the world of plastic water bottles. Their infinitely recyclable, BPA-free, post-consumer aluminum cans are challenging the status quo of plastic bottles, embodied by their slogan, “Bye, Bye Plastic.” Not only does Open Water encourage reuse of their products, but they produce net-zero carbon emissions across the entirety of their business operations. Open Water is minority-, woman-, and LGBTQIA2S+-owned, and gives 1% of their annual sales to nonprofits as a member of 1% for the Planet. Open Water’s “Still Can” has received the Blue Standard Product and Packaging Seal, a rigorous sustainability standard that verifies plastic-free products, packaging, and business operations. 

As the sustainable packaging industry grows, it will be important to break through to industries that are influential in changing societal habits. On March 12, 2023, Open Water partnered with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to eliminate plastic water bottles at the Oscars. In alignment with Plastic Pollution Coalition’s Flip The Script on Plastics initiative, their partnership has helped catalyze a shift in the entertainment industry away from plastic and its toxic impacts. To join the movement, you can become an activist for Open Water and visit PPC’s Flip the Script on Plastics page to browse our plastic-free entertainment resources, sign our pledge, and more.

Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July (PFJ) is a global movement that empowers people to make changes and refuse single-use plastics in their daily lives and communities. Every year, over 100 million people around the world participate by taking the challenge, which can be uniquely designed according to individual or group preferences, including intensity, duration, region, and more. PFJ provides a host of resources to get you started, wherever you might be in your zero-waste journey. Their open-sourced platform contains learning opportunities, posters, videos, books, expert tips, and even ways to share short stories about your experiences and be inspired by others. 

This year’s theme is “Small Steps, Big Difference”—a reminder that the culmination of global, community-wide action drives cultural and systemic changes needed to tackle the scale and urgency of the plastic pollution crisis. In 2022 alone, 140 million participants collectively eliminated 2.6 million metric tons of waste from their lives, including at least 300 million kilograms of plastic. By the end of the year, 88% of PFJ participants had made at least one lasting behavior change, with the cost savings from their actions avoiding plastics totaled $2.8 billion.

The PFJ movement has initiated global progress towards behavior change and resulting policy action on the international scale. Their research, for example, found that 87% of people support policies and action to reduce plastic waste. The movement has also been used to center the voices of underrepresented communities around the world in the UN Global Plastics Treaty negotiations. As a result of their recent accomplishments, Plastic Free July was selected as one of two finalists for the United Nations “Mobilize” award, from over 3,000 applications from 150 countries, as initiatives that mobilize, inspire, and connect people to drive action towards a more sustainable future.

Find out more about the PFJ movement, and all the ways you might participate here.

Does your business or organization align with our mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts? Apply to join our global movement.

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