Ep. 26 - Take the Pledge to go Plastic Free


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Boca Behind the Scenes


Plastic Free July is an annual challenge to reduce the many ways we use disposable plastics in our daily lives and raise awareness about the amount of single use and disposable plastic is around us. The Office of Sustainability is challenging residents to try the low-plastic lifestyle for this month and see what habits can stick throughout the rest of the year. Hear from Sustainability Manager, Lindsey Nieratka and Gumbo Limbo Nature Center Manager, Leanne Welch as they discuss the benefits of going plastic-free and not only how it helps our environment but our wildlife as well.CONNECT WITH US? Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BocaRatonCity/? Twitter: https://twitter.com/CityBocaRaton? Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/citybocaraton/? Nextdoor: https://nextdoor.com/agency-detail/fl/boca-raton/city-of-boca-raton/? Website: https://www.myboca.us/Ep. 26 - Take the Pledge to go Plastic Free Transcript[Upbeat theme music plays]Anne Marie: Hey everyone and welcome to Boca Behind the Scenes -- a get to know you podcast where we talk to city staff to get details and information about new programs, events and projects that are taking place right here in your city. My name is Anne Marie Van Casteren, public relations specialist with the city's communications and marketing division, and as always I am happy to be your host today.[Upbeat theme music fades out]So wherever you may be listening to this podcast right now, I want you to take a moment and think of all the ways you may use single use plastics...[Sound of plastic items being touched]Plastic silverware, plastic water bottles, plastic food containers, plastic bags, now go ahead and think of all the people in this entire universe that use those very same items.[Sound of plastic items being dumped]It's kind of overwhelming to think about, right?[Ominous music plays in background]Plastic pollution is one of the biggest problems facing our environment and it's starting to gain a lot of attention. On a regular basis, images appear on our social media feeds of overly polluted oceans, turtles entangled in plastic and ingested plastic particles in pieces by various marine life. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight. So in an effort to increase awareness of the everyday ways that we as a community here in Boca Raton use and throw away single use plastics, the City's Sustainability Office is challenging all residents, yes you, to make changes this month during Plastic Free July. Plastic Free July is the global yearly challenge where millions of people give up single use plastics to raise awareness of the amount of disposable plastic items that we use every day in our lives and challenges people to do something about it. So last year we spoke to you our City's Sustainability Manager, Lindsay Nieratka, about this very initiative so let's hear from her again about Plastic Free July.[Ominous music fades out]Lindsey: So Plastic Free July is just it's a it's an awareness event and it is an international event that was started in Australia in 2011 and it started as just an office initiative but since then over two million people have opted to participate from over a hundred and fifty-nine different countries. What Plastic Free July does is it challenges participants to take a look around their lives and figure out the places where they're using plastic unnecessarily or not recycling it properly and to then implement some changes to reduce the plastic waste that they're producing.Anne Marie: Some of you may fully understand the benefits of going plastic free and some of you may not right now and that's totally okay. Honestly, I'll admit, it wasn't until I started working very closely with our sustainability department that I started to take notice and really take a look at the amount of single use plastics that I utilize in my life every single day.[Plastic bags being rustled]For those of you that may be in the same boat, let's listen to Lindsey as to the benefits of going plastic free and why it's so important.Lindsey: We've learned a lot in the last few years about the impact of plastic on the environment and just the amount of plastic that we have been producing. A study came out, I think last year, that looked at all the plastic that's been produced since 1950 and what has happened to it all and the results were surprising to even the people doing the study. We produced over eight billion tons of plastic since 1950, seventy percent of that has been disposed and of that only ninety or sorry only nine percent has been recycled. Which means that it is somewhere and sometimes that's going to be in places we don't want it like in our oceans. So all the plastic that's ever been produced still exists and ninety one percent of it has not been recycled. So we have this logical disconnect between this material that lasts forever and a use of it which is for disposable products.[Sound of ocean waves]Anne Marie: And if you've been to the beach lately, I am sure you have seen our many turtle nests blocked off within the area. Being a coastal community, not only is our community important to us but our wildlife that inhabits our environment is as well. Having a world-renowned turtle rehabilitation center within our city has opened our eyes first hand on how plastic affects our marine life, especially our sea turtles. Gumbo Limbo Manager Leeanne Welch was able to put this into perspective.Leanne: Two-thirds of our planet is covered in water, so it makes sense that two-thirds of our plastic that has not been recycled has wandered in the ocean and we see that in the most remote islands in the Pacific that man has never set foot on and they get there and it's just littered with plastic waste. We see it up close and personal at Gumbo Limbo, especially in our turtle rehabilitation facility. Every year there's tens of thousands of baby turtles, hatchling turtles that are born on our beaches and they're they're little, they're smaller than the palm of your hand and they're born with all of the knowledge they need to be an adult turtle. There's no, mom doesn't come back and take care of them and when they're born they swim for about two days they get out to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and wind up in these giant weed patches, these sargassum weed lines. And from there at they're preprogrammed to eat pretty much anything that fits in their mouth. A lot of them wind up back in our rehabilitation facility. They're weak and they get washed back up on the beach occasionally some of them do die and we do a necropsy, which is an animal autopsy, and what we find is a hundred percent of them have plastic in their stomachs. Two-thirds of the animals in a rehab facility are also impacted by plastic, whether it's an entanglement in fishing line or rope. Occasionally, we have to do an imputation of a flipper for that, so I mean we're just seeing it up close and personal everyday.Anne Marie: So now that we have all this really great information, why not go ahead and take the pledge to go plastic free this month? The City's Office of Sustainability created a pledge tracker that you can use at your office or at home to hold you accountable. And what's so great about it is that it's not just a one size fits all challenge. You can go ahead and pick initiatives that work well for you as well as your family. And looking at the pledge tracker, that actually have right now in my hand, it lists all the different ways and items to avoid. So there's things such as plastic retail bags, bottled cleaning products, disposable coffee cups, plastic cutlery and foam take out boxes. But then it provides you with different ways to avoid it. So for example, for the plastic retail bags, remember that you can use reusable shopping bags or even a cardboard box if you don't have them when bringing your groceries or items home. For plastic straws, when you go out to dinner, refuse the plastic straw or opt in for a paper straw if they have that available. Or you can even go online and purchase your own reusable straws and bring them with you. For plastic cutlery, you know go ahead and support businesses that are offering compostable alternatives like bamboo or fiber cutlery, or bring your own reusables or sit and enjoy dine-in. So there's so many different ways that you can get involved with this pledge. And what's really awesome too is once you see all the things you can avoid and how to avoid it, you can also look at the impact that you would have on the ocean, waste reduction and climate and kind of what level of impact you would have on those three. So it's a really great initiative that you can get involved in. You can go online and print it off of our website, it'll be on our social media channels and there will also be a display at the library where you can go ahead and get the pledge, and at the bottom you will put your name and information and you can leave the section below to get updates and be entered to win a sustainability price. So, it's really something to definitely look into and make it a challenge within your home with your family, friends and see you know what you can do, not only now during this month but how you can implement that long term. And this isn't the only way that you can participate in Plastic Free July. What's really awesome is the Office of Sustainability and our Recreation Services Department is hosting an intracoastal kayak / canoe clean up on July 27 at Spanish River Park canoe launch to celebrate Plastic Free July as well as Parks and Recreation Month, which I'm sure you'll be seeing more information from us about that and the and the possible podcast, and attendees are able to bring their own canoes or kayaks or you can borrow one but there are limited supplies available so make sure you R. S. V. P. soon to get yours. Or you can even join in on the, on an on-land beach cleanup and clean up plastic from the Intracoastal side of the barrier island. So there will be more information posted about this event and it's coming soon so make sure that you stay connected with us. And these are only two ways for you to practice sustainability. I mean, we have so many initiatives. If you go on to our sustainability web page you can read up all about them. We have our Coastal Connection Restaurant Program that kind of goes hand-in-hand with this. So be sure to go ahead and get involved. Use this as a way to you really propel yourself into sustainability within the city and incorporate these practices into your everyday life. So go and get creative and you know come to the beach cleanup, learn more about sustainability in your city on an ongoing basis, make the pledge and be a part of this great community effort.[Upbeat theme music plays]So for more information as always go ahead and follow us on social media -- we're always posting information about initiatives like this and we are everywhere. We're on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, I think I said Twitter, Instagram, you name it, Nextdoor, we're there. And you can also visit the city's website at myboca.us. and if you go to the search bar and look up sustainability, you'll go to that home page and it'll list all this information and more. So thanks so much again for tuning in to Boca Behind the Scenes and be sure to tune in next time.[Upbeat theme music fades out] See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.