Grantee Spotlight: The Plastic Pandemic

Volunteers from All One Ocean participating in a beach cleanup.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a sharp increase in online shopping, take-out, personal protective equipment, and other items that necessitate single-use plastics. Market rates for new or “virgin” plastic are nearly half the price of their recycled counterparts, incentivizing businesses to invest in new, rather than recycled, material ( Still, recycled or not, plastic does not decompose and is a steady contributor to climate change. This type of waste was a problem before 2020 but its heightened demand over the last two years is leading to a severe consequence: a pandemic of plastic.

From greenhouse gas emissions to poisoning humans and animals, plastic waste threatens our environment in a multitude of ways. Many of our Rose Foundation grantees are fighting to protect our precious ecosystems and communities from an onslaught of plastic pollution. Read on to learn about the different ways All One Ocean, Valley Improvement Projects, and Zero Waste Humboldt are tackling plastic pollution.

All One Ocean provides engaging and thoughtful environmental education about the impact of pollution on our oceans. By teaching sustainable alternative solutions the organization hopes to promote environmental preservation, change consumer behavior, and ultimately create policy change. All One Ocean has multiple programs including beach cleanups and youth schools and camps all of which bring communities together to celebrate and preserve our ocean.

Valley Improvement Projects’ (VIP) mission is, “to improve the quality of life of underrepresented and marginalized residents of California’s Central Valley by advocating for social and environmental justice.” Their most recent grant from the Rose Foundation will go towards supporting climate justice work, advocating to reduce local plastic waste, and outreach to youth and farmworkers on environmental justice issues in low-income, Spanish speaking communities in Stanislaus County. VIP understands that change often must come from the ground up. By educating low-income residents on the ways single-use plastics are disproportionately harming their communities, the organization hopes to change community behavior and in turn community policy. Most recently VIP has been focused on ending the use of plastic produce bags that contaminate composting and recycling systems. 

Zero Waste Humboldt (ZWH) offers waste reduction solutions through public education, advocacy, and technical training. The organization is tackling Humboldt county’s plastic problem by promoting proactive waste prevention strategies in businesses, partner organizations, local government, schools, and youth groups, including establishing a local Zero Waste Business Certification Program, and increasing citizen science monitoring. Through this multi-pronged approach to achieve zero waste, ZWH hopes to preserve and protect the diverse ecosystems of Humboldt County.

Similar to COVID-19, the plastic pandemic will not go away unless we make changes to our daily lives. The work of these grantees demonstrates the power of advocacy, education, and simple daily acts in the fight to achieve zero waste.

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