Sustain Jefferson Jefferson County, Wisconsin

Join our plastics pick-up & reporting project

We've joined forces with the international The Story of Stuff Project from Sept. 10 to 16 to pick up plastic waste polluting the public spaces of Jefferson County and report what we find to a global database. It's part of an effort to reduce the use of plastics by holding companies responsible for the waste they produce. We need volunteers to spread out across the county to collect and identify by brand name, product and material type all the plastics they find and report back to us. To volunteer e-mail us at events@sustainjefferson.org and we'll e-mail you the official reporting form and an identification guide. Bring the completed form to a thank-you event for volunteers on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m. at Nichols Farm W5631 Hwy. 19, Watertown, WI or e-mail your completed form to us at events@sustainjefferson.org. All the local data we get will be reported to The Story of Stuff Project for inclusion in a worldwide database.

Much of the conversation about plastic pollution focuses of waste in the ocean. We've all see the heartbreaking images of a turtle stuck in a six-pack ring or a seabird with a stomach full of plastic. What is happening to our oceans is deeply worrying, but it's just one part of the story.

Plastic pollutes at every step, not just when it enters the environment. Plastic begins its life as fossil fuels, so when we talk about plastic, we're also talking about the risks and consequences of fossil fuels -- from fracking pollution to leaky pipelines. After the extraction step comes production and here, too, we see pollution. The factories that produce plastics and its various chemical imgredients release a variety of pollutants, poisoning the surrounding communities.

What is a plastics brand audit? It's an important first step in the effort to end plastic pollution. Brand audits are a way to identify the plastic that is polluting our environment, so that we can hold the original producers and distributors of that plastic waste accountable. That's why the Story of Stuff Project and its partners, including Sustain Jefferson, in the #breakfreefromplastic movement are planning a global week of action to conduct brand audits from Sept. 10-16, 2018. The data generated will be used to create a comprehensive report about plastic pollution around the world and help steer future campaigns to "break free from plastic."

Volunteers collecting plastics pollution in the environment will record the brand of the plastic. Is it a Dove shampoo bottle? A Starbucks coffee cup? They also will record the product type: household product packaging, such as cleaning product bottles; food packaging, such as fast food containers; or personal care product packaging, such as toothpaste tubes. The collectors also will record the types of plastics they find using the numbered identification guide.

It's not difficult. But, the data collected will be so important in helping to rid our world of plastic pollution. Join us and be part of the break-free-from-plastic movement!