Raising Healthy Families with Moms Meet and KIWI

Diving Deeper into the Plastic Pollution Crisis with Expert and Plastic Oceans CEO, Julie Andersen

December 07, 2021 Moms Meet and KIWI magazine Season 2 Episode 5
Raising Healthy Families with Moms Meet and KIWI
Diving Deeper into the Plastic Pollution Crisis with Expert and Plastic Oceans CEO, Julie Andersen
Show Notes Transcript

It’s in our waterways, food, and even our bodies. Now more than ever, we need to take steps to solve the environmental crisis that is plastic. In this episode, hear from Plastic Oceans CEO, Julie Andersen, about the dramatic impact of plastic pollution and what you can do to help. Fighting against plastic pollution is crucial for the wellbeing of our planet and directly affects all of our health.

Chrissy:

Welcome to Raising Healthy Families with Moms Meet and KIWI. We're giving you the tools to enjoy the beauty and chaos of life with little ones in the healthiest way possible.

Maureen:

Hi everyone. I'm Maureen Frost, editorial director of KIWI magazine and Moms Meet. Remember those photos of the sea turtle with a plastic straw up its nose? Once a rallying cry against straw use and now represents the movements against plastics. Fighting against plastic pollution is crucial for the well being of our planet and directly affects all of our health. Today learn more about the dramatic impact of plastic pollution and what you can do to help from Plastic Oceans CEO Julie Andersen. Now more than ever, we need to fight back against this environmental crisis. This episode is brought to you in part by Dr. Bronner's. Dr. Bronner's is committed to reducing their waste and carbon emissions to create a more sustainable world. They exclusively use 100% post consumer recycled polyethylene plastic bottles for all their liquid and pump soaps. By turning used plastic bottles into new plastic bottles and products. They help conserve virgin resources, reduce landfill and capitalize on the energy already invested in making existing plastic products. Learn more at drbronner.com. Today we're joined by Julie Andersen, the CEO of Plastic Oceans International. She has worked in public health and nonprofit management internationally for the past 20 years. Her Plastic Oceans work combines her career protecting human and environmental health, life sciences, education, and love for the ocean. She also presented the most eye opening session in KIWI's Beyond the Lunchbox Digital Conference this year. And I just can't wait to hear more from Julie and her wealth of knowledge on the plastic pollution crisis. So thank you so much for joining us today.

Julie Andersen:

Thanks, Maureen. It's great to be here. Thanks for the opportunity.

Maureen:

Yeah, absolutely. I'm so excited for you to speak to our listeners today on such an important topic. You know, at KIWI, we we try to do our best to educate our audience, mostly of parents on the many issues surrounding sustainability and the health of our planet and our climate, so that they can help raise healthier families and make sure that we're taking care of where we live for future generations. The plastic pollution crisis is such an important topic for everyone to understand and plastic oceans has been working across the globe, to educate, to advocate and to act to shift away from plastic dependency that we all rely on in our everyday lives. So I'm super excited to jump into these questions with you. But before we begin, can you just kind of give everyone a little bit more information about what Plastic Oceans is and how it came to be?

Julie Andersen:

The plastic is, is one of these materials that really represents and it's a tangible item that we all see the the benefits, and now the cons of where it is polluting the world and it represents the best and worst of our globalized society. This plastic has allowed us to ship goods, literally every single place on this planet we can, it's been able to democratize the world, providing food security to many places. It's it does lower the the carbon emissions even in travel and logistics, and then there is an affordability to plastics. That's why we have so many single use items just wrapped in plastic that we use once throw it away. And so it's super convenient. But we're now seeing that the world has, does not have the same systems to manage the waste that we're creating. And we're seeing different communities suffering from this. And now we're seeing that it's affecting our oceans, and therefore affecting all of us on a very global level. And what we're doing at Plastic Oceans is not only raising awareness about the problems of plastic and how it's affecting the environment, or human health are getting into our food chain, and it's we're now finding it in our water and it's affecting our water security. And where we are at plastic oceans have developed we've developed a system and a using film as a way to spread the information about plastic and the awareness of the barriers to solving the problems and also introducing solutions but using film, but tying this to real activism. And we the difference there is let's use film. It's not it doesn't just because you watch one film doesn't mean the problem goes away now that you're aware. You now know to take those those actions to creating these sustainable lifestyles individually community wise and also advocating on a policy level.

Maureen:

Yeah, absolutely. And it's such a interesting concept. You know, a lot of the way that we do get educated in these important matters is through films and documentaries on important subjects like that. So it really, you know, I was just kind of looking you have a couple of really interesting ones coming out soon as well, which ones are our I think you had a few in 2021 that are just launching this year.

Julie Andersen:

We have the film Against the Current that two years ago we went to Easter Island, we were approached by a South African swimmer, Sarah Ferguson, and she said, she's a swimmer and an endurance swimmer. And she said she wanted to raise awareness about plastic pollution, and became aware of Easter Island, which is the most remote inhabited island in the world, about 3000 miles away from the coastline of Chile. And Easter Island is part of Chile. And it's in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And there are 7000 inhabitants, but yet it has the higher, it only has 7000 inhabitants, but it has the highest microplastic pollution. And I'll get into what microplastics are. But here's a small population, but they're being affected by all the plastic coming in from Australia, Asia, South America, and even North America. As it pulls in these currents. And they're called gyres, these currents that are natural within the ocean. They're the wind this, the sun breaks down these plastics, causing them to get smaller and smaller in size. And that's when they're called microplastics. And they are washing up on the shorelines of Easter Island. And part of the film was documenting Sarah's swim, and she was the first person to ever swim around Easter Island continuously. That means not touching any boats, not touching any people she eats without touching anything. And she can continuously swam around that island, Easter Island to raise awareness about this problem. And it's just been really, it's a film about her and her endurance swim, as well as the collaborative efforts that were came together to make it even happen.

Maureen:

Yeah, I mean, it's an amazing feat that she pulled off, just physically being able to do that. And to dedicate it to such an important cause. I mean, I have done some open water swims before and can't imagine the length that she has gone to. So it seems like such a great, a great film and a great story to raise awareness for this topic, too. So you talked a little bit about, you know how the plastic pollution is affecting those individuals on Easter Island, but who who else is mostly affected by plastic pollution?

Julie Andersen:

Plastic pollution, that when there is a direct effect that it is, it's going to be economic, it's the poor areas of poor demographics that that simply do not have the waste management infrastructure. And by waste management infrastructure, I always have to say it's not the capital W capital M waste management business. But it is the process of having people collecting bins actual bit trash bins, where trash is put into the bin, samba a truck comes picks up the trash from those bins, takes it to a processing center where it either goes into landfill goes into recycling, or incineration, burn, it's burnt, that whole system of how we manage our waste. There are many, many, many, I would say in the hundreds of 1000s of communities around the world that just simply don't have those type of that system. I mean, if you go to India, we just put in we raised money to even put trash cans in the in communities, so they could at least have it contained. And we fought to have a collection service which we had to pay for to bicyclists who to cyclists to pick it up. So those are the communities that are first like directly impacted by the waste of plastic pollution. But what were we seeing because of microplastics because these plastics, light materials, even a plastic bag or straws that we can see here, even where I'm located in Los Angeles, they blow into the ocean they blow into rivers, they make the part of the environment where they can break down and either they start entangling the animals they start affecting though the the animal population, or when once it gets into the oceans when they break down when plastic breaks down into the microplastics. When they're so small, those small pieces of plastic they compete With food, they compete with the bacteria sighs are the microorganisms that serve as food for fish to dolphins, the whales. And what happens is when it gets into our fish and we eat it, it then becomes toxic for us. It's now in our food chain. And now we're starting to be affected by the impact of plastic pollution.

Maureen:

Yeah, absolutely. So it's pervasive, it's everywhere, it's, it's at the bottom of the food chain, and then that eventually makes its way up to us too. So it's just the ripple effect of the overuse of plastic, you can see how it just builds and builds and builds.

Julie Andersen:

It's not even just the microplastics of plastic bags turning into smaller pieces. But we're now seeing it most of our clothes are plastic enough to remember most of our synthetic clothes, anything with stretch is a type of plastic, nylon, polyester. All of these are synthetic plastics. So every time we wash microfibers, which are another form of microplastics, they shed into our water systems.

Maureen:

Yeah. And, you know, I think that's one of the biggest things is you don't necessarily realize that your clothes are plastic, and that every so many of the different things that we use, because it doesn't look like your typical like, Oh, that's a plastic water bottle, or that's a baggie or something. So it's just educating and understanding. Like, if we were to take inventory in our own homes right now, like, I think I would be shocked and appalled by my plastic intake. And and I consider myself like someone who's, who tries to limit, you know, my plastic and and I think that's, that's kind of the blessing. And the curse that we're in with plastic right now is that it's become so essential in so many different ways. But we have to figure out a better solution. Like, can we talk about single use plastics a little bit and why they are particularly problematic?

Julie Andersen:

Absolutely. And I think this is a great transition to where you were talking about before. It's not about just completely eradicating all the plastic in our lives. I mean, there, it's virtually impossible, and it serves a lot of benefits. What is happening is we use too, we have just too much waste in general. And I mean, you can, it's not just plastic, we create too much waste in general, as individuals. And single use plastics are the worst, because they represent really our consumption habits. And single use plastics being what are the item that we want the products that we want, and all the packaging that comes in, that it comes wrapped in the shipping, I mean, if you think of all of the wrapping of the food, items of apples wrapped in plastic bags, or bananas, or wrap now and plastic, or nuts, everything that you can think of snacks wise, it's all single use plastic, and what that is, is that we use it once and we simply throw it away, it has such a short shelf life of use. But yet, it creates all the steps, it checks all the boxes of the steps that are harmful in terms, that plastic was oil, extracted oil from Virgin resources, from the natural resources, it was then shipped, converted into the added chemicals were added to it made into plastic, then it was processed into an item that was simply designed to go straight to landfill or get into the environment. So the reason that we we really emphasize trying to reduce the amount of single use plastics is because it isn't necessarily the item that we need, we're not trying to eliminate the product, we're trying to eliminate the design of waste, the use the consumption of something that truly is going straight to trash.

Maureen:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So I mean, part of using less and is is the notion with like a circular economy and trying to transfer over to that type of a lifestyle. Can you kind of explain to us what that actually means?

Julie Andersen:

So the circular economy is a framework in which we can start to think about how we use products and how we how producers can start developing products, and how, as individual consumers as individuals, how we can start thinking of product lifecycle, and that is we've gotten into this habit. And when I say we this is everyone this is on a policy level individuals producers, we buy, we make a product, we buy a product we somebody is going to take care of it. It's an end of life cycle, it's just going to go to trash. Circular economy starts to sit, how do we use all of our limited resources, it recognizes that the world has limited resources, can we instead of thinking of things as trash, and we can keep you Using unlimited resources, how do we recapture our, our trash so that it can be used again and stay in that's like it within the cycle. So recycling is a critical component of circular economy because you use an item, you throw it away. But then if it was properly designed, you'd have it recycled so that you could remake or reuse that same material. So you're you're keeping the materials in the system rather than it taking brand new material, natural resources, using it throwing it away, you're actually recollecting it and reusing it so that you kind of save the, the natural virgin resources.

Maureen:

Right. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. So that, you know, that comes from like, like an overhaul of how these products are created. And, and I think that this was something that you had brought up, when in your conversation, for Beyond the Lunchbox was talking about how you have to think about the end of the product, not just how you created, so where it's going to end up and needs to be a part of the beginning stages of creation. And that's that clicked for me that's like, okay, yes, because you have to be responsible for what you're producing, you know, these big companies that actually make the mass production on a bigger level, but then, you know, consumers obviously fit in there at some point, but that is something that needs to change from the top down.

Julie Andersen:

Definitely. And where the consumers I mean, we were it's important for consumers to become educated on these topics is so that they can vote for the laws, that we need to make sure that the producers also stay within these within the circular economy principles. And, and as an example, we've been part of a coalition we beat plastic oceans has been part of a clean seas coalition within California advocating for circular economy bills. And we just recently just last week passed a California passed a bill that says you cannot sell products that with the recycling sign, the recycling arrows, the symbols of the chasing arrows, you can't claim it is recyclable if it cannot be recycled in California. And so now you're the reasons a law like that is important is that all of a sudden, it makes the recycling system possible. If you say oh, the recites recyclable but only recyclable in Germany, we're not going to now ship all of our trash to Germany, right? And, and we were doing that we were shipping it to 2018, China said, we are not taking the world's trash anymore. And all of a sudden our recycling rates all plummeted. And, and that is a reality of this waste management infrastructure, that it's not equal, you know, we can we're globalized in terms of selling and sending products everywhere. But we're not globalized in how we all manage waste the same way. So, you know, bringing up Easter Island, we can ship they could get lots of goods, they can bring in all the water bottles, all the Coke, soda bottles and products that are needed, but they have, they have no way to send or process all of that trash.

Maureen:

Yeah, I mean, we take it for granted here, because we put our things out, you know, at the end of our driveway, in our, in our, in the trash, they come and pick it up and the recycling, they come and pick it up. But you really have to think beyond that. And then where it's going and that that law that you're speaking of with California, that it's so basic, it makes sense. If you can't recycle it here, then it's not recyclable. So it's, it feels like hopefully, uh, you know, that's a obviously great progress. And I hope that it's going in that direction and a lot of other places too, so.

Julie Andersen:

You know what we're talking on this plastic pollution is a global problem. And it feels very, it is complex. It's a systemic problem. And if you if we look at these problems on this global level, it's super daunting. No, it's super daunting as an individual, how am I solving a world problem? And that's why at Plastic Oceans we have, we work to foster sustainable communities. It's breaking down those complicated global complexities, and really focusing on the simple solutions we can do on a local level, within our communities within our, you know, our community is our family. It can started our family within our household, then expand to our communities. And we see so much possible change and innovation on a community level. That really, they implemented they solve their barriers, they are able to reduce their plastic pollution and having community support enough communities. That's what then brings that support and change at a The next level if at state level or regional level, country level, and that's those are manageable solutions. It doesn't have to be this, let's try to solve the entire planet's problem.

Maureen:

Yeah, no I and and I think that that's the way anything happens if you start more at like a grass roots position, small local level, then you can build from there and and I you know, when you hear how terrible this is and what it's doing to your body into the planet you can get like lost in the weeds there and just get like so. I don't know, like it like put off like, how are we ever going to do this, it just seems so gigantic, but that's what plastic oceans is here to do to, to help at the local level and, and make it actionable for people like you and I, you know to do with our communities like you said, and, and to help with our families and get them involved. So okay, so there there is there's always this thing that I feel like people are back and forth on and I'd like to hear your perspective on it. So plastic bags, and this is getting back to like individual responsibility and individual like what we can do as people are so like, is not using plastic bags, not using these single use products. Like what what can that do is that making an impact on with this problem with this crisis that we're facing.

Julie Andersen:

Every little reduction that we make, it makes a difference. And again, it is it's keeping it in perspective, it does. When you hear about, you know, the US goes through 100 billion bags a year. And all of a sudden your one bag does not feel so significant. But then you start taking that down to the statistics because I'm based in California, but California goes through 16 billion bags a year. But then here in Los Angeles, we go through 6 billion bags a year. But now as an individual, that's roughly about 500 per person. If everyone started reducing that even by 10%, you're reducing a significant amount of bags. And the reason it extends beyond just the plastic it is the contamination that plastic bags provide. It's their light, they are the easiest ones to float in, float and drift off into the ocean drift off gets stuck in trees. And those those bags are our oil chemicals. They represent so much more than just aesthetic pollution it is there's toxicity involved it's strangulation to the animals it's so yes reducing two bags per person is significant. You know, if two bags per person in this country, you're looking at what 700 million bags less. That's a lot and I think it's not to forget about that and it also reduces the amount of oil like used and is taken out of the ground and that has disruption I mean, here in California we just had this massive oil spill right off of Huntington Beach weeks ago and they estimated was about 3000 barrels 3000 barrels of oil actually makes 7.5 billion plastic bags and if you think we could have cut back that the 7.5 bag million bags cutting that prevents that much oil oil needed in the first place so there's there's a lot of interconnection it's not just the bag it's like where did that bag come from? What and the chemicals that were that were added from you know Dow Jones and Dow Chemicals all, dow jones, dow chemicals is the they they are constantly building these factories to make more plastic bags This is a huge business for them. So yes, cutting down the bags make a huge difference.

Maureen:

Yeah, and then you know and then it's this it all seeps into our waterways and then we're adding toxic chemicals to our oceans and that's making on it uninhabitable for the marine life and that's you know, then there's also ocean acidification and then what that does for not drawing down carbon and you have to get to the point where you realize that all of it is so connected. So looking back to like okay, is this a sustainable thing for the health of the planet it it really is so important that what you just said about how it is all connected one thing begets the other and caring about you know okay, I'm not using my plastic bag, but all of the good that could come from not using it with the oil company and everything is so important. So I think that when people are like well what really good am I doing when this little aspect but if we all collectively get together to do it that makes such a big difference. So, you know, especially as parents, you're a parents who and, and we are KIWI and we we are here for our parents that we talk to this is personal responsibility is such a big thing that we should be teaching our kids as far as caring about the planet and caring about not just how it affects us. But how it affects everything. And I think that, you know, these lessons are really, really good to share as parents with our kids.

Julie Andersen:

And it's so and it's so critical to direct, unfortunately, we've gotten to the point where the system is that plastic pollution is affecting the systems that we do need everybody on board. So when our water treatment, plants are being affected by our runoff or water, wastewater runoff and pollution in our water, we need to be able to trust the water coming out of our tap, we need to be able to trust that the goods, the food and items that we put into packaging is safe for our kids to eat, to eat and drink. And, and that is why it is it's so important. I mean, I always say it's such a privilege to speak with you because it it really comes down to mothers and parents and women to really make this this change because the mothers tend to be in a position of being able to think forward, they are thinking about the future because of their kids. And, you know, when I was single, I probably would have not nearly as much about tomorrow, you know, it's just not going to be that bad and willing to take a certain risk. But because of that thinking about tomorrow, we're in that position to start making consumer choices and how and change our habits within our families to that are more conducive to a healthier planet for tomorrow. And to women are our make 80% of consumer choices, like marketers make all of their marketing choices, directed at women, because they are the ones shopping, whether that is household product cleaners, its food choices, clothing for their kids, and whatever it is, it this is a huge, powerful position that women are in right now to really shift the the demands of what products were being sold and what products we are giving our kids right and our family.

Maureen:

And I mean, that's why we exist, you know, KIWI and Moms Meet, like we are here to to be the good voice and to educate and to expose, you know, moms, because our community is mainly moms. And it's all moms that want this better future and unhealthy living for their families. So it really it's funny, because on the first season of our podcast, we had one of the climate scientists from Science Moms come and she talked all about how like it is the moms that are leading the way in these really important fights. And we are the ones because, you know, we, we make everything happen for our families, and we, if it needs to happen, it happens and we care about the future for our kids. And it's really true. Because if you're a mom at home, you need to, to understand your power, especially when it comes to your purchasing power and what you what you decide to buy at the grocery store for your family. You're you're the one in planning and thinking of everything you know, from school supplies to dinner lists, and I'm sure your partner is as well. But like we moms like we definitely have such a huge role to play as leaders in our family in like, choosing better. And it starts with you know, just understanding the choices that we are making when we go to the store. So understanding that maybe like those individual wrapped plastic things are convenient, but it would be better for used reusable bags that we might have at home or things like that. So you know, getting to the bottom of why this is so important is it's good. And how do you think we can kind of teach our kids and get them involved in this process and get them to care and to understand

Julie Andersen:

T here's, I think more of a kid, the new gen Zed or Gen Z is extremely, like more aware. But...

Maureen:

That's true, yeah.

Julie Andersen:

But it's overwhelming. I mean, I have a 10 year old. He's thinking I mean, I know it's partially me because he hears about what I do. But it's I hear from his friends that they're just so aware of global problems, climate change and plastic pollution. This is a lot for 10 year olds or young kids to take on elementary and junior high to take on these things. And where they play a role. It's it's just really developing habits of I think they're used to now carrying a recyclable water bottle and it's now breaking these old habits that we got used to plastic water bottles, throwing them away plastic water bottle throwing it away, it's now replacing that with just a new norm and making it easier for them. I know it's, it's unfortunate when the burden falls back on moms again, like, buy in bulk. And now you can just make all your food you're like, oh, it's like I have only a limited amount of time to I know. But it is just finding or even finding creative ways to work with your kids that are easy and making plans to how do we cook together? Or how do we make snacks together that are easy to be consumed in reusable items, or reusable packaging?

Maureen:

Yeah, yeah, no, that's good. And you are very right. And they are probably the most educated generation on these issues. Because they have to be so so it's true. But you know, if we just continue because I have an almost three year old so I'm starting, you know, the conversation is starting very simply with him. Like when we see trash out why that's bad, we live by the beach too. So you know, that can get in the ocean and the dolphins and everything. So starting those conversations very small on their maturity level. And then obviously someone who your son who's 10 can handle probably more than we wish that he would have to deal with and understanding the these issues. But you know, I am hopeful and I know that they care a lot, which is really good for for the future of, you know, the health of our planet and everything. They are a caring generation.

Julie Andersen:

At Plastic Oceans, we also have a film that we made it for specifically for younger kids, we say five to 10. But we have an activity book that goes up to five to 13 year olds. And it's a film called Earth's Ekko. But Ekko - E K K O, but Earth's Ekko, it's a free film, there's free educate, we say an education guide. But it's not a teacher curriculum. But it is just activities and things that help them learn. And there's a number of kids in the video from around the world that have come up with just different solutions and different art projects. And it's inspiring to other kids. But really, it's the feedback we get is how inspiring it is to parents to see the innovation of younger kids learning a problem and tackling it on a simple level. And that is the thing it doesn't we we're not trying to solve a complex global, every country problem. We're trying to solve it within our communities.

Maureen:

Yeah, absolutely. So something that I want to get back to you because I don't think that we've talked nearly enough about his microplastics. And it you know, a, it's not a term that I always heard of before, and some of our listeners might not fully understand what that means Can you kind of share a little bit about microplastics and, and what the harm is with them?

Julie Andersen:

So microplastics microplastics, are any large piece of plastic that then breaks down into a small level to where you have to use a microscope almost. And that's why it's given the title micro plastics. Once plastics enter the ocean, the sun, the currents, the saltwater, more rapidly breaks bigger plastics, whether that's fishing lines, or plastic containers and bags, food wrappers, those plastics break down in a much rapid pace into these micro plastics. And really, they it ends up becoming, I think a lot of people have heard about the plastic island out in the middle of the Pacific. It's not an island as much as it is about three feet, three, four feet deep of like an oily soup, plasticky soup, because once the plastics break down there, it's not only just the small microplastics, but it breaks back down into its oil, original oil, substance substrates substance. And so it's gooey, and it's a mess. And the reason those small microplastics are a problem is that they because they're oil based, they tend to act like a sponge or magnet to other chemicals that are also being dumped into water. Or even if it was in the soil. They tend to grab on to other chemicals and other pollutants. And now you've now have the small tiny micro plastic that is heavily concentrated in chemicals and toxins. And then they are eaten by the fish. They get into their fatty tissue. And the way that you know oil always likes oil, you know, they don't and so it will always gravitate Toxins will gravitate to the fatty or substance. So once it's on that plastic, it gets into our fatty tissue, and then those toxins will get into the fatty tissue. And that fatty tissue if As humans, we eat that fatty tissue tissue in whether it's tuna or salmon, that is what we eat, enjoy eating. And that's why those microplastics may not be able to see them. But they are. They are the cause of like a lot of the transference of toxins into our health and into our human health system.

Maureen:

Mm hmm. I mean, it's scary to think that, you know, as we sit here talking, we probably have microplastics in our bodies, and it's something that we didn't realize is happening.

Julie Andersen:

For sure. And I'm only recently beginning this year, January, a study came out end of last year, beginning of this year, where there for the first time we're seeing them in fetus tissue. We're seeing microplus and all of the chemical so phthalates, the BPA's, that people have heard about, these are all the toxins that affect neurological development. It affects hormone development, and hormones. These are the reasons that it's plastics bad, but now plastic is acting as this sort of evil magnet for all the other toxins that we've ignored, that are being dumped into our, our waterways, lakes, oceans, soil, and now you're, it's being amplified because of plastic pollution.

Maureen:

Yeah, that's a really interesting point that, you know, I obviously, read about this a lot. But I haven't heard it explained in that way where it's kind of the attract, attracting the other toxins, too. So yeah, it's scary.

Julie Andersen:

I know those that that's like the, the information that's needed to know, but it's not. There are solutions out there it is, there are other products that are that can be selected, the more I know, there are sometimes access and cost barriers. But this is why we still we encourage those that can afford it to like buy it because as soon as there is more demand, the price comes down. That is the basics of I'm not a business person, but the economics is, the more demand the price comes down. That's why right now cheap plastic made out of oil. It is it consistently stays affordable, because there is such a demand. And shifting that demand is where we're in where we're trying to encourage consumers. Yeah.

Maureen:

So is there anything that we can do to try to lessen our exposure to these microplastics?

Julie Andersen:

The, it's definitely in the product, say the, I mean, microplastics are it's almost hard to avoid once they're out and out in the environment, we're not going to be able to filter the entire world, or the ocean and the soil in the air. But that's why we were trying to turn off the tap, you know, and that makes sense. But the plastics, I think that for me as a mom, and how I buy products, is buying items that are not in plastic because it's also recognizing that like a water bottle that sits in the sun. Those chemicals can also just leach into the water. It's and you don't know how it was transported if it sat on a tarmac or on a cargo ship for a week in the sun, just baking. I I don't know if you've ever done it, but I know that I've kept a water bottle, a plastic water bottle in my car and it just sat there and I don't know, somebody brought it in. I didn't have water. I drank a sip and it just tastes horrible. It tastes like chemical water.

Maureen:

Yes, I think water coming out of those water bottles seems terrible no matter what.

Julie Andersen:

There's even more if you let it sit in the sun is just a chemical concoction of something. Yeah. And so if you think about that, even with food and the types of food and that may not have been they may not be perishable, but they said they could have sat somewhere in the sun and the leaching is there. That's why we were not supposed to microwave anything in plastic. It just read it exacerbates the process of transfer and leaching any chemicals from the the plastic because plastic is made of oil chemicals and a lot of chemical synthesis into that. And heat only allows for those chemicals to be transferred and leach into the products that we're consuming. And that's what we want to avoid. And we want our kids to avoid that obviously.

Maureen:

Yeah, absolutely. So um, as far as bio plastics go, are they a better alternative to regular plastic or conventional plastic?

Julie Andersen:

They are in many ways I think as a consumption from a consumption point of view they are they just don't break down. They still break down in the same way. Traditional plastics break down. Right now they're called Bio plastics because they are made out of more natural, something that's less toxic than oil. They try to use less chemicals but they're only You know, there's some bio plastics that say they're biodegradable, but they're only biodegradable in a lab laboratory setting. But in terms of, you know, is a traditional plastic versus bio plastic healthier in terms of leaching? Most studies have said damn bio plastics are a little bit healthier. But ultimately, you know, if possible, you know, in terms of that hierarchy of making decisions, if you can buy it without any wrapping any packaging, ideal if it can come in glass or aluminum, also better, and then, and then bio plastics and then traditional.

Maureen:

Yeah, that makes sense. So, what else can we do as families to kind of reduce our plastic consumption and in our daily lives?

Julie Andersen:

I think it asserts, I mean, where a lot of our in our families, our traditional waste plastic waste comes from a lot of groceries and is trying to buy in bulk, is it possible buy in bulk, so that you can just minimize it and use Reusables it is thinking Reusables as much as possible. glass containers, eating at home tends to be always easier and reduces our waste. The and and then there's just creative solutions that it is just sharing this information with the your family members and friends. Hey, did you know like, it's amazing by just sharing that information and initiating that conversation, even with your kids or your friends? How solutions come about how to reduce and make it easier to reduce your plastic consumption?

Maureen:

Yeah, that makes sense. For anyone you know, so I'm sure we've convinced a lot of people to take a look at their consumption. And if they're, they're ready to switch to more sustainable products and more sustainable materials. What should they do with the plastic that they have in their house? Like how do they make the switch to a more sustainable household?

Julie Andersen:

The switch is, this is where it does start at a community level. And I would love to say that we all wait, there's the waste management and recycling is all the same. In every community, unfortunately, that's our biggest barrier right now. And it is figuring out in your community if recycling is available, if if composting is collected and available, it's not because, it's not available in every community and and knowing that is, you know, knowing if it's recyclable or not, may be able to make your decision on the products you can buy within your neighborhood. Because within your community, if a product is not recycled in your community, it's likely to go straight into landfill regardless of it being recyclable or not. And, and that does become a daunting task. And this is why it does become this community effort that we're supporting at plastic oceans. Because as if we don't have enough things to do as moms and working moms and things that you're like, let's become waste management experts to our community. And that's where we do. It does require a community effort, like people who do have that time to look for it. And they need that collective like support and to look into it and to follow up with their local government. And that that becomes the important part.

Maureen:

Yeah, it's funny because my husband and I were debating how to get rid of the ravioli container that we had last night at our house gives part of it was cardboard, and part of it was plastic. And he's like, let's just throw it all away. I was like, no, let's not just throw it all away. Let's, let's put the cardboard in the recycling. And it's it's very confusing. And then, you know, at some point, you say, Oh, I give up. But we can't.

Julie Andersen:

No, and I and you can't and that's what we advocate for is to constantly push for it. But this is also where it is helpful to support organizations like you you're not as an individual, I can't change I financially cannot support changing an entire recycling system, but supporting local organizations supporting Plastic Oceans, that's where you've been, we are part of a collective we advocate for it. We've meet with the UN educate local governments. It's amazing if the local officials low local politicians and legislators, they're not informed on this. So it becomes like our job to go and constantly inform them about these topics so that they can be advocates for these policies, right the policies that we can then take to the to individual citizens, so they can understand and vote for them. So this whole process becomes our problem and that but we also need individuals to support us on this big effort to keep pushing and keep people aware.

Maureen:

Right? So if you're listening right now, and you're thinking, but how do I get involved? This is it, you, you, you support organizations like Plastic Oceans, and you get involved and you figure out how to how, in what way, whether it's your time or your efforts or financially you can help support because they are the ones doing the hard work. And then we need more people to join in those ways, so, you know, is there anything else that Plastic Oceans has been doing lately, you know, recent accomplishments to fighting against plastic pollution, I, I do love so much that you're using media and film and documentary to share because it's also entertainment, which is something that we all like readily use a need and sit down with on a daily basis. So it's such a great thing. What else does Plastic Oceans due for fight the plastic pollution?

Julie Andersen:

We are, we, our biggest initiative is our blue communities. And that is working within communities. We work with local organizations, whether that's businesses or other nonprofits, and we collaborate with them in the sense of it's like real collaboration, we take any money that we collect for community levels, we give completely to them. Because we are not, we recognize we cannot solve this problem alone. We are not this, what I always say it's like an old school system of even nonprofit large nonprofits that claim to be able to solve everything and around the world, it's impossible. It's impossible to know every community and all of their details and workings. So we have to work together with different organizations that understand those communities, we have to be able to understand the difficulties that they're facing, and that those difficulties are what we want and what we are using to educate the world and share those lessons learned. How did they overcome it? What were some of the policies and we share those with other communities that say, Hey, we also have a similar barrier, we don't have access to goods, we don't have access to potable water or or wasteman or recycling systems broken. So our that is our collective it's a complicated collective. But it's been a very successful one as we grow around the world. And we were it's a lot of hand holding, it's it's getting people to act, and it's not going to be easy because it's a systems change. And but we've been very successful for how small we are, we had a our first trees and sea's Festival, which really was bringing all of our communities together, collectively showing the relationship between you know, there is no land without sea there's no sea without land, they everything is connected. And we in a week's time our our communities, planted over 100,000 trees, we had over 100 beach cleanups, we cleaned over 25 million square feet of coastlines. And and that's it, honestly, it's not that many, you know that many communities, you know, compared to the whole world, but that's the power of coming together and working together. And we had 30 organizations take part in that. And it's just it's been really successful in terms of pushing a difference and making a difference.

Maureen:

Yeah, absolutely. No, that that's, that's amazing. It really is, you know, it's been so great to talk to you and learn a little bit more about what Plastic Oceans does and just kind of share the plastic, you know, the crisis that we're kind of faced facing around the globe. And I hope that everyone feels like they can now do something about it small or support organizations that are that are getting together, bringing people together to help and definitely go visit plastic oceans.org. And check it out. And like Julie said, there's there's a ton of material on there, there's a ton of movies to familiarize yourself with and you can kind of learn some some about the communities that they partner with around the globe. And just just see where you fit in and how you can help in this in this area. So Julie, thank you so much for joining us. This has been amazing. I could talk about this forever with you, as you have shared so much and I really do appreciate you taking the time out and sharing with our audience of parents. Thank you so much for joining us, Julie.

Julie Andersen:

Thank you so much Maureen, this was such a pleasure.

Maureen:

Plastic Oceans International is a US based nonprofit organization whose goal is to end plastic pollution and to foster sustainable communities worldwide. They operate with the belief that we can and must act locally in order to create change globally, and do so through four key pillars of activity, education, activism, advocacy and science, through supportive programs aligned with their pillars and driven by embracing the circular economy, their mission is to inspire and incite action that can lead to changes in consumer behavior, corporate practices and public policy. Collectively, these changes will lead to a reduction in plastic pollution, regenerative communities and a healthier planet for many years to come. Learn more and donate today at plasticoceans.org. Here's what's new at Moms Meet and KIWI magazine. Registration is now open for Wow Summit '22 Virtual. Join us on March 29th through 31st, 2022, to gain the knowledge you need and the community you crave to raise a happy, healthy family. Attend educational workshops, earn from compelling speakers, network with like minded moms and discover new products in our virtual exhibit hall. The best part it's totally free to attend if you're a member of Moms Meet. There's even a unique track just for bloggers and influencers. Head to WOWevents.momsmeet.com to learn more and register. The winter issue of KIWI magazine is here. Discover amazing presents in their meaningful Holiday Gift Guide, get inspired for winter cooking with delicious soups and sides, learn how to avoid sneaky toxins in your holiday decor and so much more. Read it online now at KIWImagonline.com or on the Issuu app. This episode is brought to you in part by Choice Organics. Choice Organics loves finding amazing tasting high quality organic teas from around the world and carefully balancing each plan to perfection for a delicious cup every time. Their teas are individually packaged in natural fiber compostable tea bags and then packed into cartons made from 100% recycled paper record. They're also expertly blended at a LEED certified tea facility. Learn more at choiceorganicsproducts.com. Thank you everyone for listening today and make sure that you hit the subscribe button so you don't miss the latest podcast episodes. And thank you for conquering healthy living at all ages and stages of life with us.