Submitted by Plastic Free Salish Sea
Plastic Free July, https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/, is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution — so communities like ours can have cleaner streets, debris-free land, cleaner water and a better marine environment. The importance of Plastic Free July can not be overstated as COVID 19 has caused many people to suddenly rely on single-use plastics once again. The ban on single-use bags was even suspended in the State of Washington due to heavy lobbying by the plastics industry that claimed single-use plastics were safer during the pandemic. However, a recent UCLA study showed that COVID 19 survives on plastic the longest: 72 hours vs 24 hours on a paper bag.
But locally we have been busy for the last three years developing a community awareness campaign to tackle plastics. The campaign, Plastic Free Salish Sea is spearheaded by the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee.
This coalition, led by Karin Roemers-Kleven from San Juan Island, is a partnership between MRC members and SJC Solid Waste Program; Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District; Solid Waste Alternatives Program (SWAP); the Conservation District and Friends of the San Juans. Members include Karin Roemers-Kleven (lead); San Juan County Marine Program Coordinator Frances Robertson, Ph.D.; Lopez Solid Waste District Training, Education & Outreach Coordinator Nikyta Palmisani; Friends of the San Juans Community Engagement Director Katie Fleming; San Juan County Solid Waste Program Coordinator Mark Ingman; San Juan Island MRC member Laura Jo Severson; and Orcas Island MRC member and videographer Carl Davis. Our mission is to reduce our dependence on single-use plastics which, for the sake of a minute of convenience, outlasts us in the environment for decades to come.
The Plastic Free Salish Sea Campaign officially launches Monday, July 20, with the creation of a dedicated website at www.plasticfreesalishsea.org. The website will be your go-to resource for local information related to solid waste, recycling and how to reduce your dependence on single-use plastics.
To help you learn how to become less dependent on plastics, Conservation District Leave No Trace Coordinator Kelsey Kittleson worked with PFSS to create “toolkits” that you can access through the website to explore alternative actions even during the pandemic!
The website and toolkit creation was made possible by the Marine Resources Committee through their grant from the Northwest Straits Commission.
Plastic Free Salish Sea also made a splash last year on the film festival scene around the region. MRC member Carle Davis is an internationally renowned videographer who made a 20-minute video called (you might guess it) “Plastic Free Salish Sea.” It features members of the PFSS Steering Group including Roemers-Kleven, Fleming, and Palmisani. The film is chock full of ideas on how to begin your own journey towards becoming a concerned and activated citizen who reduces, reuses, and recycles. It can be viewed on www.plasticfreesalishsea.org or you can watch it during this year’s Friday Harbor Film Festival planned for Oct. 23-25.