At first glance, the idea of fighting plastic pollution with picnics seems like a non-sequitur. But as the Picnics Unwrapped campaign has shown, the linkage between single use plastic and it’s effect on ecosystems worldwide is about our consumer choices, and our behaviour. Plastic use in Australia projected to double by 2040 – not to mention the 130,000 tonnes already making its way into the marine environment, it is a problem that will continue to escalate, unless we can make different choice about how we use—and don’t use—plastic. Plastic Oceans Australasia created the Picnics Unwrapped competition as a way to address the way we consume plastic, particularly during outdoor recreation. With half the global population living within 100km of a coastline, our choices around plastic make a difference. But this story is being told in dramatic detail close to home. The Port Phillip Eco Centre’s Baykeeper report cites fragments of hard plastic, often crushed or decayed plastic bottles, as the main pollutant found in both major rivers feeding into Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay, with the remainder led by other recognisable consumer items: polystyrene and soft plastics. This pollution peaks in summer and also spikes close to key recreation events, such as Flemington Racecourse during spring racing. Picnics Unwrapped is a fun way—even through lockdown—that we can spend some time together and enjoy picnics plastic free. The movement is being championed by people all around the world, with campaign ambassadors ranging from marine scientists and company founders to artists and media personalities. But despite their diverse talents, everyone involved is united by common goals: to reduce single-use plastic consumption and stem the rising tide of pollution making it’s way into our oceans and waterways. HOW IT WORKS: Fundraising for Picnics Unwrapped is easy and fun! Participants can choose to run a plastic-free picnic this spring individually or as a team to raise money for Plastic Oceans Australasia’s Education Program, a 12-month step-by-step program to eliminate plastic from schools. While the competition ends on November 16, donations will be accepted right up to the end of November. It’s super easy to get involved: 1. SIGN UP Accept the challenge and register yourself today. Get your very own fundraising page, host an epic picnic and enjoy! 2. TAKE THE CHALLENGE Start your challenge and ask your friends to sponsor you. Use our resources and share your progress on your social media pages with the hashtag #PicnicsUnwrapped. 3. MAKE A DIFFERENCE The money you raise will support Plastic Oceans Australasia's Education Program. Share your impact with friends to protect oceans from plastic. As well as being a lot of fun, Picnics Unwrapped gets to one of the core tenets of a circular economy: accountability. Accountability not just of how waste is managed, but the reduction of waste at its source. As we’re finding out, it’s more than possible to enjoy some of our most beloved activities to the fullest, without impacting the natural environment for many years to come. Spreading the word about our behaviour towards plastic use and consumption with Picnics Unwrapped is just one way Plastic Oceans Australasia is hoping to continue educating people about the need to address the frivolous waste and long-term effects of single-use plastic. They are also hosting a webinar on November 9 called ‘It’s a Wrap’ that explores alternatives to plastics from a manufacturing standpoint, featuring Picnics Unwrapped ambassadors such as celebrated sculptor Marina DeBris, who has garnered a huge following worldwide by turning oceanic pollution into unique art and fashion (or ‘trashion’ as it is now known). Also featuring are Jordy and Julia Kay from The Great Wrap, makers of the only Australian made compostable cling wrap. One a former architect and the other a winemaker, they have managed to transform compostable waste products into an alternative for plastic cling wrap. Produced in their solar-powered Victorian factories, this wrap truly is a revolution for our kitchens as well as our oceans – not to mention a perfect model of the circular economy in action. The webinar will be co-hosted by Mark Jacobson from Replas, a hugely successful Australian business transforming soft plastics into an ever-growing range of products, from play equipment and park furniture to decking and exercise equipment. Another fantastic model for the development of a more sustainable ethos of growth.
Production and consumption of single-use plastic is still increasing, making our decisions around how we choose to use it increasingly important. There’s still a lot of work to be done in educating people about the long-term effects of their daily decisions around this ubiquitous material. But by increasing awareness through education programs, engaging events and honest discussion, we can begin righting the course of our plastic consumption, and steer towards a cleaner, healthier, plastic-free future.