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The goal of “Plastic Free February” was simple … raise awareness of our excessive plastic use.
We often hear stories where plastic use has created major environmental issues around the world. Guess what? These issues are also present in each of our own backyards. Here is the good, the bad, and the impact of #PlasticFreeFeb.
This past month’s Human Powered Movement challenge was a bit different than others. It was less focused on physical accomplishments but in many ways, it was more eye opening. Turns out, the same was true for many others.
The first part of the Plastic Free February challenge was to commit to going single-use plastic free for the month. I’m not naïve to think that this would be an easy challenge or a commitment that people would wholly abide by for 28 days. Even as the megaphone wielding ringleader, it was difficult to fully remove single-use plastics from my life.
Again, the goal was to raise awareness. The reality is, our throw away culture is unfortunately second nature. We opt for short term convenience over long term impact. We’ve simply become accustomed to plastics for its “now” properties and fail to forget about it's "forever" impact. I know I’m not the only one that has been deeply impacted by now having greater awareness of my decisions.
The second part of the challenge incentivized participants (via 100% recycled gear from Recover Brands and reusable coffee mugs from Summit Coffee) to clean up the streets, trails, waterways, slopes, beaches and climbing crags that we use and enjoy every day.
This also increased awareness to what we typically blow past on a daily basis. Quite frankly, it is absurd how much trash is strewn along our roadways, and throughout our environment. I hate to admit it, but there were many days that I was distracted while driving because I was making mental note of my next roadside cleanup.
Alright, that’s the doom and gloom. Let’s turn this trash barge around and point it in the positive direction.
I developed this challenge thinking that I might be able to encourage a small change in a small number of people. I was wrong. This challenge has triggered a much bigger impact for many more people than expected.
Through this challenge alone, more than 50 people cleaned up trash across over 20 different cities throughout the US. We collectively scooped up 7500+ pieces of trash totaling over 1500lbs and drove over 50,000 impressions across social media about our efforts.
Again, these quantitative stats alone are not world changing. Let’s be clear. We have an endless grind ahead of us.
But the qualitative impact of this challenge is clear. We accomplished our goal of raising awareness. We provoked lasting behavioral change. We influenced countless others that have witnessed us taking action. We will continue these efforts well beyond February 28.
You can to do your part by basing decisions on environmental impact and not convenience. Encouraging others to do the same. Volunteering with your local environmental non-profit. Supporting brands that maintain eco conscious values. The list goes on, just keep the momentum.
Speaking of momentum, on top of Human Powered Movement's 1% for the Planet membership, keep an eye out for new “Adopt a Highway” and new “Adopt a Stream” signs to pop up in the Charlotte area. I’ve made multi-year commitments to both and will continue to sharpen my trash pickup skills.
Regardless of the month, OUR environment needs us to be continent of our place in this world.
Journal - Impact of Plastic Free February
Human Powered Journal
Writings and musings of an active lifestyle
Adam Bratton is the Founder and Head Enabler at Human Powered Movement.
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