Notes from Daniella’s talk at 5IMDC on March 24, 2011, Honolulu. Hawaii.

Friends,

Welcome to Hogwarts.

These rooms are full of witches and wizards of enormous powers, vision and ability to change the world. Some of the leading experts on ocean health are here this week. Policy-makers, scientists, people gifted with enormous powers to transform our world.

Yet, we all whisper the name, but remain silent – there is the one who Must Not Be Named.

The one is everywhere. In almost every talk. Around us.

I am daring us all – lets say the name.

PLASTIC POLLUTION.

Words are strong and powerful. Words can disappoint or inspire.

We must use them carefully.

Friends – we all know that marine debris includes many different components: glass, aluminum cans, organic matter  - but predominantly, increasingly, it includes plastic.

In the last ten years alone we have used more plastic that in the past several decades.

If we continue that trend, by the year 2030 our plastic consumption will be at 2 Trillion Pounds a year.

If we are choking now, what do you think will happen then?

It is only honest to admit that marine debris has a major component coming from plastic – indeed any ocean cleanup report will tell you that.

We need a change. And the change begins with us.

A perfect example is this conference.

We had dishes and platters of food, carefully wrapped with plastic. Each room in the hotel has little soaps, wrapped in plastic; single-use plastic toiletries and cream and sugar packets wrapped in plastic.

How many of us recycled them? How may did not use them because they are wrapped in plastic?

Not many hands went up.

Is it because we are not good people?

This is a microcosm of the real issue.

A packaging material that does not have a lifecycle plan; good people with good intentions with no other option but to use the products; policy-makers who are not involved in solving this problem.

The change begins with us.

And therefore, we – Plastic Pollution Coalition – today, make the following commitments:

1. We will continue with the campaign that inspires individuals, to REFUSE single use or disposable plastic objects. Reduce your overall plastic footprint.

2. We will continue to encourage scientists to use the power of their imagination and their knowledge to help us with new product design and with new materials; with better knowledge about ocean health, and public health and how plastic pollution affects us all

3. We will continue to urge manufacturers to own the entire lifecycle of our products. We do not want to pay for the removal of your mess.

4. And we say to policy-makers and legislators – you are in this with us. Help us with policies that encourage manufacturers, but also demand responsibility from them; and policies that allow us to decide the destiny of our communities – and not leave it to corporations thousands of miles away.

Our capacity to transform our world lies not only in the materials we choose to use, but in our ability to find alternatives; in our power to build communities that work together towards a better future –  where our babies are born without chemicals running through their veins; where our food, water, drink – and our bodies – are free of chemicals; a future free of plastic pollution.