A NUMBER of ‘waste-warriors’, armed with mermaid outfits and stuffed turtle costumes, have arrived in Newcastle with a simple message for students: cut out plastics.
“The aim was to empower the children at St Therese’s Primary School to be waste superheroes and also to help them understand that the health of our ocean is deeply linked to everyone on the planet,” Sara Rickards, co-founder of Futuregiving, said.
“We spoke about how what they eat at school, and how much waste they generate, has a direct link to the health of the ocean and how they can reduce that.”
Ms Rickards was joined at St Therese's late last week by Kate Nelson, known to many online as the Plastic Free Mermaid.
Dressed as mermaids and donning the stuffed-shell of anti-plastic character Tank the Turtle, Nelson and Rickards asked students – and all Novocastrians – to cut out plastics as part of a series of Plastic Free July workshops.
A similar workshop was held at New Lambton High on Friday, with Take 3 For The Sea founder Tim Silverwood taking over Ms Rickards and Ms Nelson’s teaching roles – sans the stuffed turtle suit.
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It’s a message that’s “incredibly important”, Ms Rickards said, especially considering “Plastic Free July is kicking off right now”.
“Things like ‘Ban the Bag’ and ‘Plastic Free July’ are the start of this incredibly important journey that we have to go on to reduce waste and minimise consumption,” she explained.
There’s “plenty of ways to get on-board” for plastic-free movements, Ms Nelson said, including “joining movements in your town” or simply “take a look at what your bins and recycling tubs have in them each week”.
“The more that we can reduce the waste that we create the better off we all are,” she said. “Always avoid takeaway containers and plastic boxes, always ask for ‘no straw’. You can bring your own water bottles to places, take your own bags shopping.”
“When you shop, forget the plastic produce bags and grab the brown paper bags from the mushroom bags, and if you don’t have any bags on you for your entire shop just grab an empty cardboard box off the shelf – there’s plenty around.
“Importantly, grab a reusable coffee cup, especially if you’re drinking coffee every day.”
Newcastle City Council has also joined the plastic-free July challenge, with Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen calling on Novocastrians to give up “plastic bags, takeaway containers, straws, coffee cups and plastic packaging”.
Cr Clausen’s call followed a special screening of the eco-documentary Blue, which Take 3 For The Sea’s Mr Silverwood hosted.
The screening at the Tower Cinemas venue was sold out.
Ms Rickards and Ms Nelson also pointed any person “interested in reducing waste and saving the planet” to online resources like Plastic Free July’s site – plasticfreejuly.org – or the Plastic Free Mermaid site for tips to reduce waste: iquitplastics.com.
Those interested in learning more about refusing instead of recycling, and about how to cut down on consumption, can also tune in to the new series of War On Waste from July 24, to air on the ABC, Ms Rickards said.