My European Adventure: Finding Plastic Pollution Solutions in France & Switzerland

Guest blog by Kareena Desai

Kareena Desai is a Plastic Pollution Coalition Youth Ambassador, age 11. She recently went on a trip to Switzerland & France and wanted to share her experience and highlight the effective ways both countries are reducing their use of single-use plastic.

Hi! I’m Kareena Desai. I am the founder and CEO of Perform For Change, a non-profit organization that raises money for important environmental causes through projects and performances. I recently went on a trip to Europe. On that trip, I saw many simple things that Switzerland and Paris, France, do to reduce the use of single-use plastic that we could also do in the United States, where I live.

While I was walking around town in Lucerne, Switzerland, there were vendors selling chestnuts. The chestnuts came in compostable bags that had little pockets where you could put the shells in and compost the whole bag later.

Kareena Desai Plastic Pollution Solutions European Adventure

In a window of a clothing store, there was a sign that said, “Be aware of what you wear” with a plant symbol next to it. It was nice to see that there were messages reminding people to be environmentally friendly with their clothing.

Plastic pollution solutions European adventure Kareena Desai

One day we went to eat at a cafe called Velo Cafe. They had reusable utensils in a reused can and napkins made from 100% recycled plant material.

On a train in Switzerland, there was a sign saying, “If you don’t preheat your oven you will save 20% of energy.” There were also water faucets that dispensed water and soap at the same time, saving 90% of the water you would have used to wash your hands! These types of signs and information were everywhere to remind people to do what they can to keep the planet healthy.

Plastic Pollution Solutions European Adventure 5

In Paris, France, at the Hotel Novotel, there was no single-use plastic at all used by the hotel! In each hotel room, they had reusable shampoo bottles. They also had shower caps in compostable packages that said “let’s act together to reduce plastic.” They also had completely compostable cups, and the room keys were also made from recycled wood! 

For breakfast, there was milk in glass jugs. All the fruits were in wooden crates, and you could cut them yourself with a reusable knife. There were condiments and yogurt in little glass containers along with a butter stick on a cutting board.

When you entered the hotel, there was a glass jug with water in it and little glass cups on the sides.

One place we visited in Paris, called the Shakespeare Cafe, had cups made from recycled coffee grounds.

At a park, they had compost signs and bins to help people compost in the right places.

In conclusion, I saw some really great and simple things in Europe that could help stop the use of single-use plastic in the U.S. as well. I hope that we can start to shift to some of those ways of doing things.

Find more plastic pollution solutions here

Plastic Pollution Solutions


October 6, 2022 , 3:00 pm 4:30 pm EDT

To accelerate solutions to plastic pollution, the UN Environment Programme, World Wildlife Fund, and the World Economic Forum announced the launch of the “Reuse Portal,” a global collaboration platform to engage innovators, businesses, policymakers, activists, experts, consumers, and people to build tools and networks for shifting from single-use to reuse.

To prepare for the Reuse Portal’s public launch in early 2023, this workshop will begin the process of building a leading community of reuse stakeholders across sectors and add early reuse resources, networks, and initiatives to the Reuse Portal.

Become a part of the Reuse Portal community and participate in this first onboarding workshop. Email with any questions. RSVP by Friday, September 23, 2022.

It’s World Oceans Day, and we are spotlighting our Coalition member Pirani Life, a company on a mission to end single-use and help everyone party sustainably. We spoke with Pirani Life’s founders Brandegee Pierce and Danielle Del Sordo to learn more about the story behind their reusable cups and tumblers.

How have you seen your beaches change over the years growing up in South Florida? 

Being on this beautiful planet and in South Florida 35 years, we’ve seen a steady increase of coral reef bleaching, eroding coastlines, and trash scattered across the sand and in the ocean from both littering beach goers as well as marine debris that washes ashore after storms and on a regular basis.  Brandegee on his 30th birthday was stuck with a needle that washed up on the beach (fortunately after a doctor’s visit, there was no issues but still really scary!)  Sadly, it got to a point where I (Danielle) could no longer go on a jog in the sand without getting infuriated with all the trash on my path.  It would end up turning into a cleanup vs a peaceful workout. We became a part of the #LitterFreeFlorida movement filled with organizations and individuals who are cleaning the coast on weekly and often daily basis, educating beach goers, students and citizens of South Florida to do better, choose reusables and take action for a better planet. 

We have recently expanded to the mountains in Asheville NC, where we see significantly less trash, and different types of litter, although it still exists and all streams lead to the sea.  We can see why not seeing trash directly entering our oceans could be a disconnect for people to think that it’s not that big of a deal to change their lifestyle and choose reusables over single use.  That’s why we are here to continue to create awareness!

How did you come up with the Pirani Party Tumbler?

Stepping outside of our comfort zones was never a challenge for us. We are designers with a passion to make a difference. In 2013, we quit our Corporate America careers in Industrial Design (Brandegee) and Costume Design (Danielle) to travel the world. We lived out of a backpack for 18 months looking for inspiration to start up an eco-friendly company together. Ideas ranged from sustainable swimwear to a healthy food truck, and the list can go on. Fast forward 6.5 years and Pirani Life was born!

Most of our sports take place in the ocean, and we were lucky enough to live one block from it. As South Florida native water babies living an active outdoor lifestyle, we grew tired of seeing litter scattered across our beautiful beaches. One of the biggest offenders was always that iconic red party cup. This fueled Brandegee to design the first vacuum insulated version of it. After countless 3D-printed prototypes created in our home studio (a.k.a. the living room), he was determined to create the last party cup you will ever need and help put a stop to the billions of single-use plastic cups that are tossed every year.

Pirani’s mission is to empower everyday heroes in safeguarding our planet through raising eco-awareness and creating sustainable solutions.  The biggest sense of accomplishment is when people tell us that through our messaging and brand, we made them think twice about using single-use items.  

What does #PartySustainably mean to you?

#PartySustainably is what makes Pirani Life, Pirani. We want the party to carry on without the waste we’ve seen in order to take better care of our beaches, forests, and the planet as a whole. You may see #PartySustainably and wonder where to even begin. Honestly, it’s anything that involves living the good life and taking better care of the environment to help the lives of others and for generations to come. To Party Sustainably means thinking about what you can do better to live your best life without relying on single-use plastics or overlooking picking up after yourself during a good time.

What plastic-free living tips do you have that people might not have thought of?

At Pirani Life, we like to spread the message that living sustainably is not about being perfect and every small action makes a difference.  Here are some of our favorite ways to #LiveSustainably at Pirani Life:

·      Forgot your reusable bags?  Wheel your groceries out of the store and bag at the car!

·      Got your favorite pho takeout but it comes in plastic?  Keep the container and use it as Tupperware!  Giving plastic a second, third, or fourth life is much better than single-use!

·      Don’t be shy!  Ask every barista, bartender, smoothie or juice maker to pour in your Pirani!  You will be surprised at how many say yes.

·      Don’t “Wishcycle”  and NEVER RECYCLE THIN FILM PLASTIC! We spent some time visiting recycling plants and the most important thing we learned is recycling will never be viable if its cost outweighs the benefit.  Thin film plastic like shopping bags clogs facilities and increases the cost of recycling a lot.

We can go on and on with this list, but those are our top 4!

If you could tell the world one message about plastic pollution, what would it be?

Imperfection in masses is better then perfection by a niche group.  Although we respect the zero-waste community a ton, the cold hard truth is the vast majority of people on this planet will never be zero waste.  Instead of shaming people for using a straw, commend them for using a Pirani Tumbler 😁 or a reusable bag or skipping the plastic water bottle.  Eventually as this message disseminates to the youth, we will hopefully have an overwhelming majority of people that care for this planet and be in powerful positions to make legislative and corporate decisions that are needed to improve the health of our beautiful and hopefully forgiving planet.

Join our global Coalition.


Happy Earth Month! This month, we at Plastic Pollution Coalition are spotlighting members with innovative solutions to plastic pollution. First up, is Coalition member business Plaine Products. Founded by two sisters, Lindsey and Alison Delaplaine, Plaine Products began with a dream to have less plastic waste in the world. Today, they run a successful refill-based business. Read on for our Q&A with CEO Lindsey McCoy and learn how the system work and about their new unscented line.

What was the inspiration for starting Plaine Products?

For 10 years I lived in The Bahamas doing environment education work. On a small island there’s no infrastructure to insulate you from the piles of plastic we are creating. You see plastic bags, bottles, and flip flops on the beaches, in the water, spilling out of the landfills, along the side of the road. There’s even a place so full of plastic it’s called Junk Beach. The message that plastic lasts forever, no matter how long we use it, is much more obvious living there than it is here.

I wanted to start using less plastic in my life. I started taking action: carrying a reusable water bottle, reusable grocery bags, skipping the straw at restaurants and bars. I looked for other ways to use less plastic. But I couldn’t figure out how to get those plastic bottles out of my shower. I couldn’t find any alternatives that worked for me and my hair. 

As we contemplated a move back to the States, I realized that I might be able to solve my own problem. Even better, I might be able to help other people use less plastic in their lives. I pulled in my sister, Alison Webster, who has a design degree and strong opinions about the quality of her products. Together we spent two years working hard to make it easier for people to get quality products without having to buy single-use plastic bottles. We launched Plaine Products in February 2017. 

How exactly does your refill system work, and do you find that it is easy for your new customers to adjust to this model?

We designed the system to be as convenient as possible to fit the needs of busy people who want to have smaller plastic and waste footprints. Here’s how it works: You order your preferred products for our website When your bottles are low you order a refill, or you can subscribe and we’ll send the bottles automatically. When the refills come you’ll switch the pumps over and send back the empty bottles in the refill box, Plaine Products covers the cost. Then we clean the bottles, refill them and reuse them. We’ve invested heavily in personal, responsive customer service to make sure we’re there to help if people have questions or want to make changes to their subscription.

Some businesses offer product refills in plastic containers. Why did Plaine Products opt for refillable aluminum containers rather than plastic?

We went with aluminum for two reasons:

One, aluminum is infinitely recyclable, which means we can reuse our bottles as many times as possible, but when they have outlived their usefulness they can be turned right back into more bottles. However, when plastic is recycled it is downgraded and can only be used one, maybe twice, before it goes to the landfill, or worse the ocean. 

The other reason is concerns about the chemicals that are in plastics. When I started doing research for Plaine Products I learned how many chemicals were in mainstream beauty products. It was an eye opening experience to read about the toxins, detergents and pollutants I was putting on my skin and in my body. It just didn’t make sense to me to offer this amazing, environmentally friendly packaging and then put chemicals that were harmful to people, animals and the environment inside. And again, it didn’t make sense to ensure our products are toxin-free and then put them in plastic bottles, when there is increasing concern around the chemicals that are leaching out of the plastic bottles and into the products inside.

What benefits does your new unscented line offer/who did you have in mind when you developed the unscented line?

Unscented products were the most requested item from our customers and would-be customers. While our scented products only contain essential oils, not synthetic chemical-based “fragrances” in many products, they are still too much for some people and their skin. Those with sensitive skin, preexisting skin conditions, allergies, or even a hypersensitive sense of smell can get very irritated by the ingredients in fragrances or even by essential oils.  Even for those without preexisting skin conditions there is one common condition many people experience from fragrances or essential oils: contact dermatitis.  This is a form of eczema, so after prolonged use of a product, your skin may start to develop an eczema-like rash. Many times, essential oils or the unknown ingredients in “fragrances” can be the culprit for irritation, which is why an unscented or fragrance-free product may be the best option.

Thank you Lindsey and Plaine Products!

Join our global Coalition.

Via Break Free From Plastic

Voters in four states expressed widespread approval for passing legislation to reduce plastic pollution in our communities, on land and in our waters, and ensure that polluters pay for the impacts of their products.

WASHINGTON — A new Public Policy Polling survey of bipartisan voters in Colorado, Florida, Maine, and Washington State finds broad public support for passing legislation to reduce plastic, air and water pollution, improve recycling, and hold manufacturers responsible for the packaging and end-of-life for their product. A large majority (73%) of voters surveyed support passing a law to improve recycling, and 62% of voters are more likely to support the proposal after hearing that it would force manufacturers to take responsibility for their product packaging.

“These findings are completely consistent with the multitude of other public opinion polls that have all shown the same thing: the public is sick and tired of plastic pollution, and they want manufacturers to take responsibility for recycling the items that they make,” said ​Nick Lapis, Director of Advocacy at Californians Against Waste​. “It’s time for policymakers and brands to get serious about reversing the out-of-control growth of wasteful packaging and disposable items.”

Likewise, 67% of voters who want to improve recycling are more likely to support legislation if it would ensure that our recyclables are not being dumped overseas. “U.S. companies are smuggling waste plastic inside waste paper that we import, and, because we don’t have a good recycling system here, people often wind up burning the plastic,” said ​Prigi Arisandi, Executive Director of ECOTON​. “Developed countries should treat and recycle their own waste in their countries. We demand the governments of exporting countries clean up the piles of plastic scraps that are being dumped in our rivers and drinking water sources for more than five million people.”

When asked about a particular law that has been proposed to manage product packaging, a majority (52%) of voters say they are more likely to support the law knowing that it will reduce the disproportionate negative impacts of pollution on low-income communities and communities of color. This shows that economic and racial justice is at the forefront of many voters’ minds. Voters also support laws to reduce related environmental concerns, such as air pollution (70%) which occurs at nearly every stage of the plastic life cycle—from fossil fuel extraction to manufacturing, distribution, and disposal, often via incineration or landfill.

“For many of our environmental justice communities boarding the largest petrochemical corridor in the nation, the refining and production of plastics has significant impacts on our health and well-being. Air quality standards in the greater Houston area need to be regulated,” said ​Juan Parras, Executive Director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.E.J.A.S.)​. “Hopefully, the new administration will focus on enforcement of clean air standards throughout the nation.”

Voters also express serious concern about a recent study which found that fifteen million metric tons of plastic pollution enters the ocean every year. 76% and 80% of voters, respectively, would like to see more legislation aimed at reducing plastic and water pollution. Additionally, 79% of those surveyed support passing laws to protect the ocean.

“The equivalent of two garbage trucks’ worth of plastic is entering the ocean every minute, and that’s only going to increase with the projected growth in plastic production. Voters are clearly aware of the plastic pollution crisis threatening our blue planet and recognize it’s time for government action,” said ​Christy Leavitt, Oceana’s Plastics Campaign Director​. “If we want plastic to stop ending up in every corner of our environment, we need policies to reduce the production and use of this persistent pollutant.”

A ban on expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam products was also found to be popular. A majority (57%) of people surveyed say they support a statewide ban on foam takeout containers, while just 26% say they oppose it. “This level of support helps give us winds under our sails as more and more states consider bans on foam products, such as single-use foodware, coolers and packing peanuts,” said ​Heather Trim, Executive Director of Zero Waste Washington​.

“Foam foodware is pervasive in the marine environment. When released into the environment, intentionally or accidentally, it is carried from streets and through storm drains out to the ocean where it breaks down into smaller pieces and gets harder and more expensive to clean up,” said Jennie Romer, Legal Associate for the Surfrider Foundation’s Plastic Pollution Initiative​. “As a result of its very low economic value to recyclers, in addition to food residue contamination, foam foodware is rarely recycled and instead is sent to landfills or incinerated.”

“This survey shows that bipartisan support exists for legislation to address many of our concerns about the impacts of our plastic waste,” said ​Alex Truelove, Zero Waste Director for U.S. PIRG.​ “That 89% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans surveyed say they support a law to reduce plastic pollution, while 90% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans support passing laws to protect the ocean is highly encouraging. Hopefully our decision-makers will agree.”

“Now more than ever, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need to understand and acknowledge the seriousness of the plastic crisis,” said ​Frankie Orona, Executive Director of the Society of Native Nations​. “Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to preserving and ensuring a sustainable future. We are meant to coexist with Mother Earth and all living beings, and we are not and have not been doing our part. We need a healthy environment to live so that our children can not only survive, but thrive. The only way to do that is for us to come together as a people.”

The#breakfreefromplasticmovement is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in 2016, more than 11,000 organizations and individual supporters from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. BFFP member organizations and individuals share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, and work together through a holistic approach in order to bring about systemic change under the #breakfreefromplastic core pillars. This means tackling plastic pollution across the whole plastics value chain – from extraction to disposal – focusing on prevention rather than cure and providing effective solutions.

Did you know? Plastic Pollution Coalition turned 11 years old on Oct. 24, 2020. The movement to stop plastic pollution has made great strides over the years. We are thankful for all of our members, advisors, donors, and friends who have brought us to this point.

Here are 11 major accomplishments we are celebrating from the past 11 years:

  1. Plastic Pollution Coalition has grown into a broad alliance of 1,200+ businesses and organizations, and 13,000+ individual members, from 75 countries on 6 continents.
  2. Our REFUSE Campaign generated thousands of pledges to REFUSE plastic before you “Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.”
  3. The Refill Revolution diverted millions of plastic cups and water bottles from landfill at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival for 7 years running.
  4. We have changed the narrative, calling ‘marine debris’ what it in fact is: plastic pollution.
  5. In 2010, our TEDx: Great Pacific Garbage Patch ignited a movement where experts, influencers, and activists started bringing increased attention to the global plastic pollution crisis.
  6. The Last Plastic Straw Founder Jackie Nunez highlighted the irrelevance of the plastic straw, built a groundswell of support to “skip the straw,” and continue to hold companies like Starbucks accountable.
  7. We have grown our support network of amazing Scientific AdvisorsNotable Coalition membersYouth Ambassadors, and Executive Advisory Board members to lead the way and spread the word.
  8. The Better Alternatives Now (BAN) List, produced with 5 Gyres, identified the most dangerous plastics.
  9. Our Plastic Free Guides & Tools include The Plastic-Free Campus Manual (with Post-Landfill Action Network), The Healthy Baby Guide (with MADE SAFE), and the Global Legislative Advocacy Toolkit, are all available for free on our website, and are accessed daily.
  10. The ReThink Plastic Pilot Study, launched with Child Health and Development Studies, demonstrated changed behavior reduces exposure to health hazards from the toxic chemicals in plastic.
  11. We are a founding member of #breakfreefromplastic global and support the proposed U.S. federal legislation: The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.
Plastic Pollution Coalition launch with founders and advisors on the beach in Malibu, CA, on Oct. 24, 2009.

We still have a lot of work to do. Here are 11 projects we are currently pursuing:

  1. As part of TED Countdown, we hosted 84 mins of programming called TEDx Plastic Pollution Coalition on Oct. 14.
  2. PPC Global Webinars, educating and informing on topics on plastic pollution and solutions, with our next webinar on October 27, “Unseen: Microplastics Research & Solutions.
  3. Our Global Plastic Reduction Legislative Toolkit, created with members, is the primary global portal and resource for individuals, organizations, and policymakers focused on eliminating plastic pollution through policy action.
  4. U.S. Federal Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020 introduced in February 2020.
  5. Following our Advocacy to Action grassroots training (with Oceana & Student PIRGs), supporting youth and local activist leaders with small grants to put their advocacy efforts into action.
  6. Together with our fiscal sponsor, Earth Island Institute, taking Legal Action with a ground-breaking lawsuit filed against major plastic-polluting corporations in California.
  7. Promoting PPC Youth Ambassador Hannah Testa of Hannah4Change’s new book Taking on the Plastics Crisis, published on October 13 from Pocket Change Collective (Penguin Random House).
  8. Partnering with The Conrad Foundation on the new Ocean Challenge as part of the Conrad Challenge, a youth STEM innovation challenge.
  9. Launched The Healthy Pregnancy Guide (with MADE SAFE) to help navigate the challenges of preparing a nontoxic home and making healthier living choices for babies and the planet.
  10. Continuing to call out major polluters through our Corporate Campaigns, including Amazon & Coca-Cola.
  11. Partnered with on an immersive 360 virtual reality film, Sea Plastic, narrated by PPC Notable Tim Robbins.

Together, we are creating a healthier, more just, equitable world—a world free of plastic pollution.

Check out our 11th Anniversary campaign, where your donation will be doubled, up to $11,000, when you give by October 31. We thank you!