How the Plastic Free Challenge was born
I had been watching documentaries about the bottled water industry and plastic pollution, and I was feeling a strong sense of dread and frustration knowing that I was part of this immense problem. It became hard to accept the fact that every piece of plastic I used would pollute and poison our planet forever! I took a long cross country road trip in my minivan (in the U.S.) and while traveling, I was constantly getting food to go (take away). Every meal was served to me in Styrofoam containers with plastic silverware and excessive packaging and it was really upsetting me.
One late night in rural Pennsylvania I pulled into an all-night diner along the highway and I decided to bring in my own plate rather than accept another styrofoam clamshell. Admittedly, I was feeling a little awkward, but I asked the waitresses if they would mind serving my food to me on my own plate because I didn’t want to create unnecessary trash. They thought it was a strange request for sure, but more entertaining and exciting than their normal truck driver requests. While I was waiting for my food, I explained to them that in certain parts, the world’s oceans have 6 times as much plastic in them as plankton (fish food) and that plastic pollution is overwhelming our landfills and infiltrating our food chain and water supplies causing numerous health problems. After hearing the facts that I had learned from the documentaries they were encouraging and supportive and actually treated me like a hero. I asked the waitress if she would mind posing for a photo holding up my plate with my meal. I proudly walked away with my late night meal and an appetite for more than just food. I then posted the photo to my personal Facebook page. The post received a lot of likes, comments and attention. Additionally, in my efforts to avoid using single use plastics and trash in general, I became hyper-aware of how much I was consuming.
I thought to myself, wow just by bringing in my own plate and posting the evidence to Facebook I had a huge impact. What if I could invite others to do the same. What if hundreds of people started publicly endorsing sustainability on social media. That could raise awareness in a big way. And that’s how the idea for the Plastic Free Challenge was born.
- Way Papa Muse