This post is republished with permission from Plastic Pollution Coalition. The original article can be found here.
By Emily DiFrisco
Earlier this week, Anita Horan, a free diver, writer, and founder of the #PlasticFreeProduce campaign, celebrated a huge win near Sydney, Australia, when local supermarket Cole’s decided to sell loose carrots at the same price as the plastic-wrapped carrots.
The win was a culmination of more than two years of work for Horan, who runs her campaign from her social media accounts and speaks up to major grocery stores, small markets, and even farm stands about how they should stop packing produce in plastic.
Horan describes her Facebook page as an informative and interactive place to respectfully discuss, expose, and address the issue of unnecessary plastic packaging. “This is not an ‘anti-corporation’ page, as I don’t want to give any corporation the excuse to shut me down,” she nuances. In truth, she often does target the bigger chain grocery stores in effort to reach the average Australian consumer.
“Being ‘an average consumer’ I want to say it’s unacceptable that fresh produce is being packaged in increasing amounts of plastic,” says Horan, who adds that almost all of the produce packaging is virgin plastic that likely won’t ever be recycled. “Plastic is non-biodegradable. It does not revert to organic matter, it breaks down into micro-plastic or ‘micro-poison.’ Much of it is washing into the ocean, where it collects additional toxic chemicals and is ingested by marine life. We’ve only been using plastic for a relatively short time and already, in some places, 25 percent of the fish have plastic in them.”
Horan first started thinking about plastic pollution as a free diver, seeing increasing amounts of plastic garbage in the water. She once went to retrieve a plastic chip bag from the water, and it “shattered’ into tiny pieces, impossible to clean up. Her first step to reduce plastic from her own life was to save all her plastic trash for two weeks, an often stunning experiment that she encourages others to try as well.
After visiting recycling facilities near her hometown, Horan was shocked to learn that less than 10 percent of plastic is recycled in Australia (the number is even lower worldwide). She wants to dispel the myth that recycling will solve the plastic pollution problem. “Increasing recycling or using biodegradable plastic each have their own complexities and are not the solution. We need to revert back to a system where we don’t use any ‘single-use’ plastic. We don’t need our food gift wrapped.”