Seaside Sustainability Hosts The Story of Plastic Virtual Panel Discussion

June 13, 2020: On Saturday evening, our partners over at Seaside Sustainability hosted an hour and a half-long panel discussion event all about the new documentary The Story of Plastic. Attendees from throughout the community were granted access to the documentary for 72 hours before the event, and then logged onto Zoom at 7 pm EST to hear from a group of four experts in the field. This included staff attorney Lauren Packard from the Center for Biological Diversity, Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences Dr. Judith S. Weis from Rutgers University, Municipal Assistance Coordinator Sharon Kishida from Northeast District 2, and writer, artist, and wildlife rehabilitator Erica Cirina, all moderated by executive director Eric Magers from Seaside!

A film presented by The Story of Stuff Project, The Story of Plastic “takes a sweeping look at the man-made crisis of plastic pollution and the worldwide effect it has on the health of our planet and the people who inhabit it. Spanning three continents, the film illustrates the ongoing catastrophe: fields full of garbage, veritable mountains of trash, rivers and seas clogged with waste, and skies choked with the poisonous emissions from plastic production and processing.” Especially in the age of coronavirus, we’re seeing an influx in the use of single-use plastics on a global scale for the sake of health, and this film brings up pertinent conversations about the detriments of relying on throwaway items. 

One key takeaway from the panel discussion is that, despite what the major corporations who contribute a lot of the world’s plastic waste try to say, plastic pollution is not a problem that needs to be solved by individuals. Beach cleanups and anti-littering campaigns only go so far. The plastic needs to be addressed at its source, and less plastic needs to be made in the first place to keep our oceans clean. The panelists recommended that individuals who are concerned about plastic pollution look to see what they can do to enact policy changes in their communities that will reduce the public demand for plastic and, hopefully, reduce the supply. Organizations like Break Free From Plastic are working towards these very goals, and are always sharing ways to take action!

With UN reports saying that there will be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish by 2050, it’s more important now than ever to take action in the plastic pollution crisis. Only 9% of the plastic ever created has been recycled, and organizations like StepChange are doing their part to try to increase their percentage. But they can’t do it alone, so working to make these changes at the source is something that Seaside and a lot of other great organizations are working to implement in our world!

The panel discussion event was recorded and made public on YouTube for anyone interested in hearing what the panelists think about the documentary and how it can be applied to our lives. There is also a great article in the Gloucester Daily Times from Taylor Bradford that you can check out, too. Congrats to Seaside on an awesome event!