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We did it: mum rejoices over plastics pledge

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Newcastle council has committed to phasing out single-use plastics from all council-managed activities and events by 2020.

This includes plastic straws, water bottles, balloons, promotional material and plastic signage.

The move followed the council’s endorsement of the UN Environment Clean Seas campaign.

Launched in February 2017, the campaign aims to engage governments, the general public and the private sector in the fight against marine plastic pollution.

Australia joined the movement in October last year, setting ambitious targets, such as making 100% of packaging reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025.

But Newcastle was slow to catch on, with other city councils such as Brisbane and Hobart taking the lead first.

Nevertheless, the news that Newcastle had pledged to reduce its environmental impact was music to mother-of-two Mia McManus’ ears.

“I was so happy to hear the news, as previous correspondence with [Newcastle council] had not seemed successful,” she said.
“However, I’m glad to know they have taken initiative.”

Newcastle Weekly first spoke with Mrs McManus during Plastic Free July last year, after she had launched a petition lobbying the council to phase out single-use plastics.

The petition garnered 1,520 signatures of her 10,000 goal, despite a prolific social media campaign via the Instagram page @one.less.plastic.straw

“I’m unsure if my petition had an impact on [the council’s] decision,” she said.
“Perhaps, over the past year, with the growing awareness of the plastic pollution crisis and the many Novocastrians who supported my petition, [the council] recognised that this is something that really needs to happen.”

At the end of the day, Mrs McManus said she was happy with the result, no matter how it was leveraged.

“I’m proud to live in such a beautiful coastal city that embraces changes to reduce plastic waste,” she said.
“So many marine animals and birds die every year from ingesting plastic or being tangled in plastic, so we all need to be mindful of where our waste can end up.
“One of my favourite things that has come from my quest, is how many children enthusiastically pick up plastic where they see it. I especially love how my young daughter yells ‘Plastic!’ at the top of her lungs every time she spots some.
“To me, that’s what this is all about: creating awareness about the consequences of plastic pollution and inspiring change in everyone, so that we can all make a difference.”

Mrs McManus will continue to host beach clean-ups and, personally, strive to make an individual impact. Follow her Instagram page for more information about how you can get involved.

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