It’s not your fault that 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the oceans every year. We didn’t create the material that is harming human lives and the planet. Yet, we are left to deal with it because oil companies refuse to take responsibility for the waste they are creating. To stop this problem, we have to break free from plastic.

Fifty of us watched the premier of The Story of Plastic last week to learn more. On Monday, we chatted about what we can do to help! We know there isn’t one quick solution. It will take all of us doing as much as we can, whenever we can. And, encouraging others to do the same. So please join in!

Here are ways we came up with that will help you and others break free from plastic:

1. Spread awareness

Talk to your family, friends, and neighbors about plastic. The full scale of this problem is often hidden from sight. Help people learn more by writing an article for your local news, such as Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Milwaukee Independent

2. Encourage folks to learn more

Talk to people about The Story of Plastic and other documentaries about plastic. The more people know, the more likely they’ll be inspired to act. 

3. Contribute to local efforts

Committed and passionate people are already working on this. Join them! Check out Plastic Free MKE and Milwaukee Without Plastic to help out. Support plastic-free stores like The Glass Pantry!

4. Help remove barriers

Find out why it’s hard for some people to stop using plastic and help find solutions. Share information and resources that have been helpful to you.

5. Stay positive – we’re making progress!

More legislation has passed in recent years than ever before. More people are aware of the situation. And more people are committed to taking action to help. Your efforts make a difference!

6. Lead by example

Make plastic-free choices in your own life. Demonstrate to others how you’re able to make these solutions work. Be a positive role model for the younger generations that will continue to be impacted by this problem.

7. Take this time at home to evaluate the plastic in your life

What plastic-free habits do you want to keep up with? What plastic habits do you want to break? Do a plastic audit to see what plastic is in your home and where it’s coming from.

8. Ask local companies to be leaders in eliminating single-use plastics

We’re proud of our city. We love our local businesses. Let’s ask local businesses to make us proud to support them by eliminating single-use plastics.

9. Remind folks that it is possible to change our habits

Responding to COVID-19 has been a challenge, but we’ve been able to adapt. And quickly. We’re very capable people! Let’s apply that same urgency to responding to the plastic crisis and climate change.

10. Take care of yourself

Take on what you’re able to when you can. It’s ok if you have to take a break or aren’t perfect. Jump back in when you can! Your health is a priority. Good health will lead to greater success.

11. Recognize that the plastic crisis impacts our health and social justice issues

This is more than just plastic in the ocean. Oil spills, emissions from incinerators and manufacturing, and more are impacting our health. They are also disproportionately impacting some communities over others.

12. Make plastic-free sexy and cool

Because it is! Make it the cool thing to do so others want to participate. Encourage people who influence others to support plastic-free initiatives. Support those that do.

13. Recognize your buying power

Boycott companies that are contributing to the plastic crisis. Support companies who are working to stop it. Money speaks loudly!

14. Start or contribute to a marketing campaign

Oil companies are great at marketing. So we need to be great at marketing. Promote the positives of being plastic-free and plastic alternatives. Don’t let people forget about the positive environmental impacts that have happened during this time. Hold On To Your Butt MKE is a great campaign to prevent plastic pollution from cigarette butts.

The plastic crisis is a big problem. We know it can feel overwhelming. But with each of us doing what we can, we can stop the companies responsible for it. We can break free from plastic!

Do you have other suggestions? Leave a reply and let us know! Do you want to see what other viewers had to say? Check out The Story of Plastic: Virtual Screening & Discussion page and join in! Please share this so others can break free from plastic too.