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How I Got February 15, 2017 Declared Plastic Pollution Awareness Day

1 comments | Posted By Chantal Plamondon On December 22, 2016

People always ask me how I ended up getting February 15, 2017 declared as Plastic Pollution Awareness Day in the state of Georgia.  After all, I am just a 14-year-old girl.  The short answer is passion and hard work, but I know that’s overly simplistic.  So here is my story.

Long ago, when I was four, I realized that the actions we take today can have an impact on our world.  One day, after leaving a store, I said, “No one cares about our planet except for us.”  My mom asked why I said that, and I replied it was because no one brought their own reusable bags except for us.  So from a young age I learned that protecting the Earth started with us.

In elementary school, I would present to classmates about topics such as organic gardening.  I enjoyed educating others because I felt that useful information ought to be shared with others.  Around the age of 10, my parents started exposing me to issues that were affecting the animals I love, and so I started to really raise my voice to help the Earth and its animals.  I raised money and awareness for various animal causes (it was difficult to focus on just one cause) by speaking at protests and rallies, collecting thousands of petitions to send to politicians, leading fundraisers, and producing educational videos to spread awareness of animal issues.

Around this time, I realized that one of the biggest problems facing wildlife is one that we can control:  plastic pollution.  I could show you some horrible pictures of animals that have died or suffered due to ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic, but that’s for another time.  I have also seen firsthand during beach cleanups, even just a short while after resort workers sweep up the beach of trash, several buckets of plastic.  I have travelled to several beaches in the U.S. and other countries and they all have the same problem.

For me, it is difficult to see a problem and not do anything about it.  Even though I am young, through education I felt I could get others to reduce their plastic consumption because I always believed in “Knowledge is Power”.  If we all were truly aware of what is really going on, wouldn’t we all want to improve the situation?

After learning all I could about plastic pollution, and partnering with several environmental organizations, I ended up networking with a local senator.  My mom always says, “you don’t ask, you don’t get” so I used that philosophy to simply request an awareness day to educate the public about the dangers of plastic pollution.  Together, we wrote a resolution that will proclaim February 15, 2017 as Plastic Pollution Awareness Day in Georgia.  And now I am publicizing this event to as many residents and businesses as possible, with the goal that at least on this day, we will all commit to avoiding single-use, disposable plastic products such as plastic bottles, straws, and bags.

There is no doubt that you too can do what I have done.  Fuel your passion to help animals and the environment by getting educated on the issues…remember, “Knowledge is Power”.  Discuss the issues and share what you have learned.  Network.  Leverage the Internet and social media.  If we children join together and use the power of our collective voices, we can force change.  I hope you will join me to influence changes that help our wonderful planet.  Together, let’s change the world!

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