My love of wildlife and the environment sparked my will to get involved at an early age. At the age of 10, I was the youngest volunteer at what was then called the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. From that point onward I knew my mission was to protect the natural resources we still have left. I’ve traveled the world in search of places free of pollution or plastic, but everywhere I went, communities had a “trash problem.” I witnessed mountains of trash piling up in villages and streams filled with plastic waste. I’ve seen first hand the destruction that cyanide bombing has had on reefs reduced to rubble in order to stun fish for the aquarium trade. Volunteering for Elephant-Human Relations Aid (EHRA) I learned that efforts to protect wildlife must have buy-in and involve the local community in order to be sustainable. Nobody wants their backyard to turn into a landfill, or to lose iconic wildlife forever. But people need solutions that address complex issues. Effective environmental activism empowers people with workable and accessible fixes.
It was this mindset that inspired my biggest volunteer activist role, bringing awareness to my community of how plastic pollution affects wildlife, the environment and our health. In the Spring of 2019, after hearing the city of Berkeley had banned single use plastic food-ware, I learned my own community had a similar ban in the works. I started a petition to expedite the approval to phase out disposable plastics. I spent countless hours volunteering at my local farmer’s market teaching the public about sustainable alternatives to plastic usage, and gathering signatures. This effort was successful in adding an amendment to ban plastic produce bags to phase one, which would also ban plastic straws, utensils, stirrer sticks, and drink plugs in my town.
I started The Plastic Free Store to share my mission of “Love Over Plastic.” It is aligned with my values to protect all life from the toxic and physical hazards of plastics. In addition, I continue to volunteer with efforts that I care about, including educating the public about factory farming, beach cleanups and giving talks to spread the “plastic free” message. The latter of which I’m able to share my experience influencing local policy, starting up an eco-conscious business, and teach about simple lifestyle choices that individuals can make to support a healthy planet.
I encourage people to become involved in local and national policies that discourage plastic waste and use the power of your dollar to vote for the planet you want. Become an “Activist Consumer,” an individual who shops from businesses with planet friendly policies, and products.
I hope you will join me on this mission to Live Plastic Free.