Students Explore Global Solutions to Plastic Pollution at Algalita’s Youth Summit

More than 125 students from 8 countries and 6 U.S. states gathered in Dana Point, CA, February 22-24, for Algalita’s POPS International Youth Summit. The 3-day empowerment experience held at the Ocean Institute has helped support 181 grassroots projects in 21 countries since its inaugural year in 2011.

This year’s teams represented the U.S., New Zealand, Africa, and Tunisia, in both coastal and inland, rural, and urban, communities. From providing food banks with reusable bags to instituting reusable utensils in their school cafeteria, these teams are addressing plastic pollution locally and with culturally and regionally specific solutions.

Experts and workshop leaders included: Dr. Wallace “J” NicholsThe New York Times best selling author, scientist, and ocean conservation enthusiast; Stiv Wilson, Director of Campaigns at The Story of Stuff Project; youth eco-conscious-raising powerhouses from Bahamas Plastic Movement Kristal Ambrose and Will Simmons; Dianna Cohen, CEO of and co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition, Jackie Nuñez of The Last Plastic Straw, 5 Gyres Institute, Surfrider Foundation, Bureo; and Algalita’s Captain Charles Moore, who won the Peter Benchley Ocean “Hero of the Seas” Award, and whose best-selling book Plastic Ocean has brought worldwide attention to the phenomenon.

“We believe responsible solutions to plastic pollution are within reach, and we believe youth will accelerate the process,” said Katie Allen, Executive Director of Algalita. “Our team is 100% committed to preparing this new generation to take on the challenges ahead.”

Watch more videos of the Summit here.

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Gandhi’s Be Magazine has launched The BE Bag for its Fall 2018 BE THE CHANGE Campaign to help raise awareness and action for eliminating plastic waste and embracing a way of life that supports clean oceans for all. Part of the proceeds from purchases of The BE Bag will go to support the global work of Plastic Pollution Coalition and The Ocean Cleanup.

The BE BAG Starter Kit is for everyday activists who want to embrace the zero waste lifestyle and “Be the change they wish to see in the world.”

The BE Bag comes packed with:

  • BE reusable nylon shopping bag for backpack, briefcase, or purse

  • BE Steel Reusable Water Bottle

  • BE Steel Reusable Coffee Cup

  • BE Bamboo Reusable Utensil Set that includes: Fork, Knife, Spoon, Chopsticks, Straw and Pipe Cleaner, all in a Carrying Case perfect for a backpack, briefcase, or purse.

  • BE Reusable Lunch and/or Leftover Container

  • BE Reusable Sandwich and/or Chip Bag

  • BE T-Shirt

  • BE Reusable Handkerchief

Gandhi’s Be Magazine Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief Melissa Turner said, “We are honored to be launching a campaign that not only helps raise awareness, but also helps support the work of Plastic Pollution Coalition and The Ocean Cleanup–two of our favorite organizations dedicated to cleaning up the waste and destruction we humans have waged on our oceans and waterways, and the animals who call them home. It’s not too late to kick our addiction to plastic and single-use products. We want to help spread the message of BE, which is all about embracing nonviolence as a way of life, and that includes a commitment to the zero waste and sustainable way of life.”

Learn more at www.bemagazine.org/the-be-bag.

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By Paul Kradin, CEO, CO2CYCLE

We all seek to lead lives with purpose. I recently discovered — at age 50 — that my purpose is to help address the gathering threats of rising greenhouse gases and our rampaging abuse of disposable plastics. Our atmosphere is clogging with carbon dioxide and other heat capturing compounds, and the earth that sustains us is submerging under a mountain of single-use plastics — their masquerade as a “convenience” is officially over.

My practice had been to use earnings from my comfortable career as a corporate communications writer to support charitable groups that aligned with my values. But I felt I needed to do more. My partner has a well-established commercial production company and had long-lamented the industry’s wastefulness. We conceived a start-up that could provide green set services for – initially – commercial productions and instill sound environmental practices that wouldn’t compromise creativity.

In May 2018 I quit my job to start CO2CYCLE (pronounced cocycle) to do exactly that. On set we implement several systems to reduce waste, eliminate single-use plastic water bottles, offer solar-charged table-top batteries for light-duty work to displace Diesel-powered electricity, and collaborate with caterers to ensure their serving items are reusable or recyclable. At the end, we tally up the shoot’s total carbon footprint and invest in an offset project so it nets out to carbon-neutral. So far, we’re finding 20 tons of CO2 to be the average footprint per shoot!

On August 20 I worked my first commercial shoot for Ulta Beauty for four days — my first time ever working on set. Our presence is designed to be visually engaging, non-intimidating and highly educational. For example, we handle all trash collection, sorting and proper disposal with an array of graphic bins that are hard to miss. Our pop-tent is custom-made with four 100-watt solar panels that charge two portable batteries at a time (for computers, laptops, a water dispenser, catering appliances, etc.). And our onsite attendant — me — helps to make it a seamless experience.

The response from cast and crew was truly heartening.

“CO2CYCLE keeps a watchful eye to make sure everything on set is properly sorted — seamlessly and without any disruption to our creative process, said Cara Bonilla, Sr. Creative Director, Ulta Beauty. “With a commitment to education and dedication to saving our Earth, this company is chipping away – making a huge impact with many small, important steps.”

Our challenge is to build a bridge for production decision-makers between their desire for a green set and the more difficult step of allocating budget for it. However, we are not that expensive. On our last few shoots, CO2CYCLE accounted for an average of 1.2% of the total budget. Had we not been there, production would have spent about 0.2% on services we would have covered. So, the net cost for have a green, carbon-neutral production is 1% of the budget. Given the stakes I think this is a pretty good value.

We want to inspire a cultural shift away from constant consumption and disposal, and move toward a more sustainable practice. Are there other reasons beyond social responsibility that should motivate producers and their clients? Well, one marketing survey after another reveals that Millennials and affluent shoppers overwhelmingly prefer to spend their money with socially responsible companies. These customers will spend up to 30% more for products and services from climate-friendly brands when they’re aware of their altruism – which is why we provide a Carbon Impact Report and Instagram-ready graphics that highlight our successes on set.

For a long time, people didn’t understand how day-to-day habits could ricochet into our ecosystem. But now we do, and our situation is critical. These issues are daunting for people who can’t quite square how their small, personal efforts can alter a planet-wide problem. I would simply say that if each of us does what we can to reduce our carbon footprint and phase out our use of disposable plastics it would add up very fast.

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Halloween and The Day of Dead are holidays celebrated by families and children around the world, but the plastic trash created for the festivities can be totally terrifying. Have no fear, Break Free From Plastic member groups UPSTREAM, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Ecology Center have collected the best solutions, tricks, and treats below.

Halloween Tips & Tricks

  1. Forgo the plastic treat bucket. A reusable cloth bag or basket works for Trick-or-Treating and can be reused again and again.

  2. Choose a plastic-free costume. Avoid costumes made with PVC/vinyl, which are more likely to be contaminated with chemicals called phthalates. Phthalates can disrupt your endocrine system… Scary, indeed! Make your own costume from natural fabrics, repurpose items you already own, or visit a thrift store for the perfect outfit.

  3. Use Real Stuff. Decorate your home with pumpkins, gourds, and autumn leaves. Use leaves like paper to make festive cut outs. Carve pumpkins into Jack-o’-lanterns for spooky decorations—you can even roast and eat the seeds. After Halloween, compost your pumpkin.

  4. Throw a Green (and Orange) Party. Hosting a party? Skip “disposable” plates and cups. Use your own cups and dishes and wash them afterward. Use real forks and spoons or for an easier option, serve finger foods.

  5. Serve party treats without a side of trash. Caramel apples, served on compostable parchment paper, can be skewered on sticks from your yard. Arrange sliced black olives in the shape of a spider on top of your deviled eggs. Halloween-themed cupcakes can be made in compostable paper cups or reusable silicone cupcake liners.

  6. Plunge into Pinterest! A wealth of creative Zero Waste Halloween ideas can be found on this Pinterest board assembled by Kathryn Kellogg of GoingZeroWaste.com, including Frankenstein kiwi, ghost bananas, and Franken-guac!

  7. Handle the Halloween Hangover. Your trick-or-treating kids will inevitably return with a hefty haul of trashy candy. For those hard-to-recycle candy wrappers, you can purchase one of Terracycle’s candy-and-snack-wrapper Zero Waste boxes, stuff it with candy wrappers, and ship it back for recycling.

  8. Keep your face paint pure. Researchers found heavy metals in almost half of 48 different Halloween face paints they tested. Other ingredients like parabens, formaldehyde, and dioxins belong nowhere near your face. Safer brands exist!

11 Tips for Trick-or-Treaters

Here are some fun ideas for those witches and dinosaurs who show up at your door.

  1. For the Fancy Festers… Have you ever heard of Alter-Eco Truffles? These non-GMO chocolate truffles come wrapped in compostable packaging made from eucalyptus and birch bark with non-toxic ink. If you’ve got about 75 cents to spend per truffle, you’ll be sure to have the most lavish chocolate on the block–without the pollution!

  2. For the Old School Tricksters… When was the last time you went to your local candy shop? Why not buy candy the old school way in bulk and hand it out in your own fun, festive way? Mystery bags are always spooky fun, and you (and your kids!) could have a blast decorating recycled paper bags with ghosts and question marks.

  3. For the Classic Candy-Givers Who Want to Keep it Classy… There are still many main-shelf candies packaged in mini cardboard boxes, like Milk Duds, Junior Mints, Dots, Nerds, or even raisins! The boxes can be recycled if clean and composted if dirty.

  4. For the Metal Heads… A few foil-wrapped candies – Hershey’s kisses, gold coins – have recyclable foil wrappers that you can recycle if you ball them up. The bigger the ball, the more likely they’ll be recycled. If a wrapper can’t be crumpled up into a ball and bounces back instead, then it’s mixed with plastic and can’t be recycled.

  5. For the Green Thumbs… Seeds are a stellar alternative to handing out high-fructose corn syrup. Instead of offering candy that will be gone in an instant in packaging that will last forever, why not offer children something that can grow with them?

  6. For the Tooth Fairies.. Small change is a big excitement! Have fun dishing out good luck pennies, and bonus points for dressing up as the Tooth Fairy!

  7. For the Practical Partakers… You really can’t go wrong with a pencil and/or erasers – it is something kids use at school and at home, so you’re not creating waste with this one!

  8. For the Treasure Hunters… Sure Charlie Brown complained about getting rocks at every house, but imagine being the ONLY house with rocks! You can find all kinds of treats from nature, from stones to seashells to feathers for trick-or-treaters. This can offer the adventurous spirit of just coming back from a hike, only dressed in unicorn horns and panda suits.

  9. For the La Croix Buffs… We all know how thirsty an ordeal trick-or-treating house to house can be. Your house can be the saving grace of the neighborhood that shares a refreshing beverage with the kids. Aluminum is one of the few materials that can be recycled again and again, so why not share some Peach Pear La Croix cans with the kids, or even lemonade or iced tea?

  10. For the Punny Ones… Who wants to say, “Orange you glad you stopped here?!” Citrus fruits like mandarins and tangerines have their own natural packaging and something Halloween overwhelmingly lacks – nutritional value. And if you go with the natural packaging theme and start handing out avocados, please let us know so we add your house to our route!

  11. For the Crafty Wizards… What better time of year to show off your origami skills than the one day a year children come to your house and expect a treat? Have fun with cats, crabs, dragonflies, and cranes, and bonus points if you hand out step-by-step “How To” guides for the kiddos who can continue the fun long after the holiday is over.

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By Joanclair Richter

For years, the entertainment industry has built a model of disposable infrastructure: sets are thrown out, plastic water bottles are used for moments between takes only to be tossed (often not even recycled), and eating arrangements are often “disposable.”

Money is tight, decisions are made quickly, and each set is essentially a temporary office: an environment literally cut-out for single-use plastic. So how does one reduce plastic in these fast-paced, budget driven environments?

From commercial and film sets to more corporate settings and film festivals, MovieMind Green increases sustainability throughout the entertainment industry. A central piece of that is reducing the use of single-use plastic (SUP). Because let’s face it, SUP is destroying our oceans and beyond!

Starting in pre-production (reducing waste from happening in the first place), a green set can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of a production overall. Plus, environmental choices are often an investment rather than a cost. In other words, when a production company begins to implement these practices, the financial gains are sky high.

Where do we start?

  1. It all starts with communication. Telling people what to do, or showing up on set as the “green police” is simply ineffective. When people feel that they are part of something, the camaraderie and excitement begins. When the options are obviously laid out and therefore easy to make QUICKLY, why not make the environmentally friendly choice? So signage is key – clear, concise, to the points, not preachy. When people know that they are helping to protect their planet with the choices they are making at work – generally, it’s a win-win. In other words, set up an invitation to take part, connect and be a team player rather than a mandate and a police force.

  2. Water is a human right. Yes, we need it. No, we don’t need it in plastic. Plastic water bottles are a concept that can be gone over a million times and never understood. If a set has taken the time to supply their cast and crew with reusables stainless steel water bottles and water stations, but there is still a case of single-use water bottles being bought in a bind, it isn’t working! Plus, as Director Josh Soskin’s point goes: a set with no plastic water bottles is prettier. So I’ve given you an answer: but an answer that requires research and potentially a bigger budget. Research? Call MovieMind Green. Budget? Cheaper. The budget line savings potential for switching to reusables and water stations is 51 percent (Green Production Guide).

  3. Everybody’s got to eat! On a set, often meals are taken to-go. Maybe shooting is still going on and the director can’t get away for lunch. There are compostables for that situation, sure. And the price difference there is negligible and the options are extensive. (Note: industrial composting is necessary for some of these compostable products.) BUT EVEN MORE – take a second to dream with us of a set where each person has their own plate and set of utensils they bring with them. Set up dishwashing stations and make it a team effort. And that won’t be a dream for long because it IS THE SOLUTION. In the meantime, most catering companies can supply reusable plates and utensils. The savings is on the environment, as we divert waste from the landfill. What about craftie? That station where people can fill up on coffee or grab a snack. Snacks are a nightmare. Chip bags are generally not recyclable. Buy in bulk. Get a giant bin of pretzels – put out a bowl and tongs.

  4. Waste Preventing plastic from arriving on set = less plastic to haul away = smaller waste bill. This is a huge win for the bottom line and the environment.

  5. On Screen Talking about what goes on screen can be touchy – solution? If you can start the conversation without offending anyone creatively, do! Be very careful to not get involved in the story. Can the character carry a stainless steel water bottle rather than a plastic bottle in the shot? The moving image and the entertainment industry has an incredible impact on the way every person sees their own life and their own choices.

People ask why MovieMind Green’s work focuses on the entertainment industry. Beyond love for the medium, we appreciate the audience size, the breadth and the reach that movies have to all parts of the world. Between all the languages and demographics – a message in this industry is priceless. The questions now is whether this industry that has such an influence can show a clean and green method from office to production, both on and off the screen.

Joanclair Richter is the founder and president of MovieMind Green, a Plastic Pollution Coalition member business.

Learn more about Plastic Pollution Coalition’s Plastic Free Events guide. 

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The Last Plastic Straw, a project of Plastic Pollution Coalition, presented the City of Alameda, California, with a certificate on May 30 to recognize their efforts eliminating plastic straws (and now all plastic food ware) from the city. Jackie Nuñez, founder of The Last Plastic Straw, inspired a local student movement to stop using plastic straws earlier this year.

Alameda is an island impacted on all sides by marine plastic pollution, most of which comes from single-use plastic food packaging. Last year, Clean Water Action’s ReThink Disposable selected Alameda for its groundbreaking community-wide project, Unpackaging Alameda, where over 100 restaurants on the island are being recruited to reduce disposable food ware in favor of reusables.

The May 30 event included presentations from Nuñez, local high school students who are ReThink Disposable Youth Ambassadors, and a screening of the short film STRAWS. The Youth Ambassadors presented their findings with data collected by using the Litterati app. 

The event was sponsored by Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda (CASA), Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund, The Last Plastic Straw, and the City of Alameda’s waste reduction initiatives.

The Last Plastic Straw and Plastic Pollution Coalition are building momentum around a worldwide movement, so plastic straws become a relic of the past. In the short term, we work with our Coalition to encourage eateries to no longer automatically give plastic straws; we educate individuals to refuse plastic straws and spread the “straw free” message; and we work to change local regulation to stop this unnecessary plastic pollution.

In the long run, this collective engagement around the gateway issue of plastic straws will meaningfully shift the way individuals and businesses think about plastic pollution – and about our society’s disposable culture on a larger scale.

Take the pledge to refuse plastic straws. 

Learn how to host a screening of STRAWS. 

Learn more about Plastic Free Islands.