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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Education the new focus for Plastic Police

By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

That is the alarming prediction scientists have made that drives Newcastle-based Plastic Police sustainability project coordinator Lexi Crouch.

“If the current rate of plastic waste continues, that’s exactly where we’ll be,” Ms Crouch says.

Driven to ‘close the loop’ on soft plastic waste, Ms Crouch has been working tirelessly to educate the community on ways to reduce and reuse some of the 300,000 tonnes of soft plastic that make it into Australia’s annual landfill.

“That’s the weight of about six Sydney Harbour Bridges,” Ms Crouch says.

“That’s a lot of plastic when you think about how light a plastic bag is.”

Ms Crouch, together with teammate and Plastic Police founder Samantha Cross, won a $6,000 sustainability grant from the Port of Newcastle last month.

The pair plan to use the money to create two five-minute instructional videos educating community members on the best ways to help reduce landfill.

“They’ll be used to educate, which is our new focus,” Ms Crouch says.

“The videos can go a lot further than two people can and recycling doesn’t work unless everyone does it.”

The videos will be available to schools, businesses and Plastic Police supporters.

For Ms Crouch, it was conversation with a friend at a Newcastle Beach that triggered her own sustainability journey.

“We were sitting and talking about the beach and the ocean and came to the realization that every piece of plastic ever created on earth is still on the earth.”

“That news was life-changing.”

What followed was a Masters of Science at the University of Southern Queensland and a final thesis on microplastics as a joint project with University of Newcastle.

Her advice moving forward is simple.

“Start with one thing you could change,” she says.

“It could be to avoid using plastic bags when you’re shopping, or saying no to a straw, or not buying bottled water or a good one is committing to take your reusable coffee cup with you every day.

“If we all commit to a small change it will be a valuable start.”

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