Another Sunday, means an urge of excitement to share and feature another positive initiative striving to make a difference for our communities, our oceans, and our planet.
If you haven’t had the chance, take some time to watch the documentary, A Plastic Ocean on Netflix! Being a volunteer for Plastic Oceans Canada, I had the chance to interview the Executive Director of the non-profit, Adrian Midwood.
This post is pivotal because we’re at this stage in our planet’s lives where we need to wake up and make changes in our daily lives to tackle the plastic pollution epidemic. Throughout this interview, not only are there reality checks about the current state of our planet, but also what we can do to get involved; whether it’s volunteering, organizing beach clean-ups, becoming a social entrepreneur or donating
Tell us about yourself
My background is as an ocean captain. I worked all over the world then settled in the south pacific Islands. After sailing and playing in the most remote beautiful places in the world, I found we were damaging our earth and oceans beyond repair and decided to focus on helping. I didn’t realize how big of a job or how involved I would end up becoming, but that’s just what happens when you get immersed in something. It was really a selfish pursuit in the beginning, I just wanted to enjoy the places I lived and worked hard to get to without dealing with other people’s trash.
How important is it for us to address plastic pollution as a major problem we are currently facing?
It’s extremely vital to our survival that we change our ways around plastics, and work towards better recovery rates. I’m not sure people grasp how large of an issue it is. It’s not as simple as a physical product invading our environment. We have numerous species of wildlife dying from entanglement or ingestion, it’s affecting our health as toxins leach into our food stream and even or safety. India was one of the first places to ban single use bags, as they clogged drainage outflows and it was creating floods. The affects are endless.
What is Plastic Oceans Canada purpose?
Our mission statement is to build awareness and foster solutions. Our primary focus is on offering educational materials in the form of award-winning films, and information templates for students and communities. As for fostering solutions, we seek out the end goal and do our best to support implementing that where our presence is appropriate.
As we grow, we aim to start offering small grants programs for local orgs, especially if one community worked on fundraising with us. You support us, we will support you.
What is Plastic Oceans Canada vision for the future?
We aim to have consistent messaging for Canadians and provide informed solutions-based materials. One of our priorities at the moment is to collate a comprehensive list of organizations around the country who work on this issue. Whether that is science, technology, education or hands on community engagement. From there we can look at how to support them when possible and at the least have this information public for people to know who they can reach out to if they are interested in any specific area.
How does Plastic Oceans Canada aim to achieve this vision?
We may be a national charity, however at this stage are really a grassroots organization. We need support and to develop our following. We have just announced a simple “phase out single use plastics” campaign for individuals, schools, small business and even corporations (at the employee level). This is in the form of offering 2 basic packs for $25 each that give you the supplies to eliminate single use plastics in your life. We have many municipalities working towards bans, though I fear those are far away in reality. It’s not a simple procedure to “ban” convenience items with our current culture. If we can get every Canadian to take the pledge themselves to phase out single use plastics, and purchase a pack, we will win in many ways. We will have reduced everyone’s single use plastic footprint and raised money towards supporting national programs.
These are our initial offerings
Can you tell us more about the other campaigns listed on your website? (Ambassador, Social Entrepreneurship and Business Partner)
Ambassador – This is for anyone who is interested in holding a community event or visiting schools. We offer the educational content, and our ambassadors get the message out there. It’s extremely successful and completely volunteer run.
Social Enterprise – This was designed to assist anyone interested in starting their own project to reduce plastics, create a local recovery program or even locally process plastics to a second life product.
Business Partner – This is for small businesses to support us through pre-purchasing our packs and distributing them to their clients. They recover their investment and support national programs. Second is for employees, if we can get one passionate employee in every office to get others to sign up to packs, we can really start minimizing everyone’s single use plastic footprint and save on shipping.
What is the most important step in helping expedite the paradigm shift to a cleaner environment and future?
Our best option is through educating the younger generation. If we can empower them towards best practice and positive change, we have a chance of fixing this issue in one generation. This is why our primary focus is on crating educational programs for schools.
Can you tell us a little more about the purpose of the event you recently hosted?
I’ve been doing this presentation quite a lot the past couple months. We were just lucky enough to film it on Friday, so we can offer it as an additional resource for any interested parties. It’s important for us to get the message out there about what we do, my past experience to showcase the sort of projects we are capable of handling and what is happening around the word. A great number of people have heard of some of these global initiatives, yet don’t understand the numbers or how they work.
I like to focus on reality and not just listen to the sensational headlines that promote complacency. I’ve worked on projects that are highly controversial with some people, yet when you actually step back and look at the bigger picture, there are always learnings to take away.
There is no silver bullet solution, therefore I like to showcase a broader picture and what it takes for us all on a science, industry or personal level to fix this issue.
What are your thoughts on knowledge sharing to make the positive change?
Knowledge sharing is vital to success. All of our materials are open source for that reason. In the end it is our primary task. We are not inventing anything at POFC, nor do we operate municipal, provincial or federal legislation and waste management. We are in the conversation though and currently working with the people who do.
We do work with gathering all of the available information and providing it to citizens of Canada so they can make an informed decision on what is best for them. We aim to be a central location for understanding what is out there and how to engage, and if that’s all we ever achieve I’ll actually be okay with it.
How can others get involved, make a difference to tackle plastic pollution?
It’s really broad at the moment, and potentially why it’s so interesting for me personally to work on this topic. Without going into next level initiatives, I firmly believe everyone should at least do the following:
- Reduce your plastic footprint – We are truly in the age of convenience, as consumers we demand change. If something is packaged in useless plastic, simply refuse it, we have a lot of options these days.
- Take personal accountability – You can’t expect the world to change, if you yourself wont.
- Recycle when possible – Recycling is not the answer, though it is better than constantly taking more virgin resources. Plastic is made from oil, which means every time you don’t recycle plastic more fossil fuels are being extracted from our earth.
- Get involved – There will be something happening close to home. Support your local organization and be an active participant in your community. As well if you learn what it is, please let us know so we can add it to our database!
We all have a long way to go, though working as a united front I’m positive we can turn the tide on plastic pollution.
If you feel strongly about this topic, we do need your support. As we are a national foundation, our resources truly trickle down to the local level in many ways.
Currently we have 3 ways to get involved.
- Donate – We are a national charity and can offer you a tax-deductible receipt. If we can get the equivalent of $1 per Canadian, we can actually set this organization up for life and help a lot of local organizations succeed
- Buy your “phase out single use plastic” kits from us. Sign up your friends, family and co-workers and earn rewards.
- Join us on an immersive expedition. I’ve ran these for years in developing islands, and really excited about bringing this department home. If you have a group of friends that would like to go somewhere, experience some of our world-renowned waterways and learn from local organizations, please reach out and we’ll put it together for you.
Otherwise visit our website and learn more about our work and 2019 priorities. If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out through our contact us page. We will do our best to respond.
Let’s come together and change this – learn of the effects that many of habits are having on our planet and how you can positively change that, share it with those around so we can all contribute to our a cleaner and sustainable planet.