#strawssuck is trending and not just in NZ, it is a global hashtag that smaller, local communities are embracing to motivate real shifts in people’s awareness and habits. If you haven’t seen this pop up on your Instagram feed then you better go search….
Straws Suck (The Mount) is just one of NZ’s communities tackling the issue of plastic straws as a huge contributor to marine pollution. The Mount Maunganui campaign, powered by Sustainability Options and Kickit is on a mission to build awareness around the impact these, and other damaging single-use plastic products, are having globally.
“The state of the environment is alarming… we admire those people who are part of the zero waste movement and we want to get there…”
…But Rachel recognizes that it is a journey which requires knowledge and support to take the first steps towards change. There is always strength in numbers and by being engaged and connected face to face, makes change is so much easier.
Launched in March this year by 3 surfers and a sustainability expert, the project’s first target was plastic straws but has gradually and organically expanded. They’re building a community primarily through their Facebook page but have also run a workshop with student champions from local schools as well as breakfast sessions for people wanting to be part of Plastic Free(ish) July. Though this work they have offered advice on how to produce less waste (and learned from others!), unpacked some of the myths and unexpected realities of recycling and composting in Tauranga, and provided guidance on buying products that are less damaging to the environment in their entire life cycle. Through this journey they’ve learned it is hard to reduce all single-use plastic in your life and often hard to know what products are actually less damaging for the environment. The key, Rachel says, is to be realistic about the fact we’re all learning how to be better and provide basic, easily understandable information that people can translate into their daily lives and habits.
“We made the choice to build an engaged following of local people and are on a mission to bring together a community who can then facilitate change.”
Initiating change on a local level can be more rewarding and powerful than ‘liking’ something through our social media feeds and making the occasional share or post related to environmental change. Genuinely connecting to people in our locality who hold the same shared positive beliefs means that we can share our stories and celebrate our wins in a more rewarding and real way. The outcomes of the Straws Suck The Mount are promising; the community is small but continues to grow slowly but steadily - the vision for the future after banning plastic straws?...
“We want to continue to build a local, engaged following which will support each other and work together to tackle larger plastic issues in our community; like the amount of produce stocked at our supermarkets which have unnecessary plastic packaging.”