Describe your implementation:
Our solution promotes awareness of the single-use plastics issue, encouraging transitions away from plastic straws toward sustainable alternatives and promoting broader reductions in single-use plastic. We use multiple public awareness channels, as well as community events with readily-available alternatives to plastic straws. We also host a website that encourages visitors to pledge against plastic straws, offers additional waste-reduction tips, & showcases eco-friendly vendors. Finally, we present financial & social arguments for local businesses to give straws only on request, as well as swap plastic straws for sustainable substitutes.
To boost individual awareness, we work with local partners to create billboards, online banners, and social media posts to publicize and direct people to our site. We’re also holding a Phone Hack-a-Thon where volunteers will call local businesses about #LastStraw and request support, particularly if businesses express environmental concerns. Participants receive a staff training guide, eco-friendly vendor list, & a promotional toolkit to educate employees and patrons.
We could not meet our goals without our team of selfless, committed volunteers. Our community business partners also provide essential contributions in the form of designing and producing public awareness tools. Finally, Orlando’s focus on sustainability creates the community environment necessary for our organization and campaign to thrive.
Our main stumbling blocks were money and organizational support -- without funds to produce the materials and website, and key community members to spread the word, our campaign could never take off. Fortunately, several individual and community donors provided monetary support at our meetings and outreach efforts, and we found grants to cover additional costs. Through outreach we also met eager partner organizations with surprising connections around Orlando, engaging with communities we never could have reached otherwise.
We secured help from two local partner companies: Corkcicle, which manufactures reusable cups, mugs, and straws; and Little Architecture, an international architecture and design firm. These two groups collaborated on #LastStraw to develop advertising and promo materials such as brochures, window clings, and billboards. We also found operational support from the Orlando Tech Association and their Momentum initiative in presenting #LastStraw at a meeting, in turn heightening sustainability awareness in Orlando’s burgeoning tech industry. Local college volunteers will also spread word-of-mouth about #LastStraw and actively recruit businesses through the Phone Hack-a-Thon. By participating, these volunteers promote sustainability at their alma maters, ideally generating more awareness and support for sustainability in academia. The more students and young people exposed to sustainability, the more grassroots support sustainability will enjoy. The connections made with local businesses additionally help expand industry awareness of sustainability and the benefits it can offer, with potentially far-reaching improvements in corporate responsibility and cost-savings for Orlando industries who adopt best practices. Finally, we hope that the buzz and momentum generated by our campaign will reach decision- and policy-makers in Orlando and the entire state. Once communities see the benefits of plastic waste reduction, we hope they will join the overall sustainability movement.