Rethinking Plastic Educates Community on 'The Story of Plastic'

Todays News

BY BRITTANY MATTIE SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY JUL 29, 2020

"Recycling is not enough." That's Rethinking Plastic's belief and company mantra. Since their start in 2017, the Sarasota-based organization has been connecting with individuals in Sarasota County and throughout the USresearching, learning and helping to educate those looking for ways they can become more sustainable in their daily lives. In particular, Rethinking Plastic's main focus remains in the area of food, including finding alternatives for single-plastic products, eliminating extra packaging and avoiding unnecessary waste. They strive to help business owners and restaurants do the same by becoming BADFive Free (to-go containers, straws, bottles, bags and utensils). The BADFive Free program celebrates restaurants that refuse single-use plastic waste in order to protect our coasts, oceans and marine life. When a restaurant obtains "BFF" recognition, they provide their patrons with sustainable and eco-friendly options that help mitigate that individual's waste footprint and tackle the world's plastic problem by making at least a dent on the community scale. "We believe that by recruiting local restaurants into our BFF program, we can create an eco-friendly culture while growing the area’s economy." 

Most recently, the organization hosted a free screening for 10 days for viewers to learn ‘The Story of Plastic.’ Those who wished to learn more about the destructive lifespan of plastics across three continents were able to stream and watch the featured film at their own convenience. ‘The Story of Plastic’ documentary not only sheds light on the global movement but calls to action that the time is now for change. Yesterday evening, July 28 (World Nature Conservation Day), the ongoing screening culminated with a Zoon panel discussion and Q&A session with local leaders already waging the war against single-use plastics. 

The esteemed panel included war veteran, environmentalist and author, Andy Mele, who is also currently running for FL State House Representative in District 71. His book, Polluting for Pleasure, led directly to the extinction of 12 million two-cycle outboard motors—ending discharges equivalent to five Exxon Valdez oil spills each year into American waterways. Until recently, he was ED of Suncoast Waterkeeper, working for the protection of coastal ecosystems in Florida, and to bring red tide back to pre-development levels. He is currently forming the Peace/Myakka Waterkeeper. Sadie Chawkins of Stop Toxic Ocean Pollution (STOP) aims to educate the community on the impacts that plastics have on the marine ecosystems, and also works with local restaurants and businesses to help reduce their carbon footprint. Randy Sleet is a Community Organizer who implemented ‘Bring Your Own’ to community events that would normally call for single-use items to eat and drink with such as utensils, cups, table cloths, beverage bottles, plates, etc. He is a strong advocate for recycling but realizes that recycling is not the entire answer to an individual’s simple, mindful reduction in plastic. Anastasia M. is the Founder and CEO at Lean Orb, a compostable foodservice packaging company. It has been developing and distributing eco-friendly take-out containers, cutlery, cups, plates and straws since 2018—focusing on both material and design innovation to create products with a minimum environmental impact. Today, the team is building compostable packaging products for a variety of hospitality clients along with music venues, schools and corporate HQs. Last year, Lean Orb eliminated 6.5 million plastic disposables from circulation in the Miami-Dade county. Lastly, is local restaurateur and owner of Leaf & Lentil, Sheila Siegel. The 100% vegan, family-owned, fast-casual restaurant in Sarasota uses only plant-based paper to-go packaging and offers cooler drinks that are in glass or aluminum containers. 

Leaf & Lentil signed on early to the BadFive Free program and has since completed all five stars with Rethinking Plastic. Sarasota restaurants Indigenous and Blu Kouzina are among the others on board and setting an example as completely rid of all five guilty culprits. Sarasota Sailing Squadron is close to gaining its 5th star for its social events, while MADE and 1812 Osprey are rethinking plastic by using alternatives for three of the BadFive. 

Any local establishment that wishes to get onboard with the BADFive Free program can contact Rethink Plastic to have one of its members come to visit and help get the ball rolling on a less plastic-filled environment. 

Photo courtesy of Rethinking Plastic. Learn more here.

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