On May 25th, Environment America and PIRG hosted, “Uniting States Against Plastic,” featuring advocates and elected officials from 12 states that are working to reduce plastic pollution. The states highlighted were Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington.
USPIRG and State PIRGs have a 50-year legacy of challenging wasteful consumption that harms our health and our planet, starting with successful campaigns to pass bottle bills to encourage recycling of beverage containers in the 70s and 80s. The network of state environment groups that are part of Environment America have built upon and added to that legacy with their own campaigns to value the protection of wildlife over waste, and ban single-use plastic bags and other products.
Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go. The United States generates over 12 percent of the planet’s waste even though we make up just 4 percent of the population. That averages out to around 5 pounds of material per American every single day.
The production of that material consumes precious natural resources, and contributes to climate change. Only a third of our waste is recycled or composted while the vast majority is sent to landfills, incinerators, or the natural environment.
We need to take decisive steps to address our growing waste crisis, and move to a circular, zero-waste economy.
One immediate, obvious step we should take is eliminating the unnecessary use of single-use plastics that have become so pervasive in our economy. So the state organizations that participated in the event, along with many other allies, have been campaigning for policies to phase out single use plastics in their communities and make plastic producers responsible for their waste.
This summer, we’re canvassing door-to-door in 10 states across the country to raise awareness and mobilize support about the need to reduce plastic waste, and we are running campaigns in many other states, too.
Make your voices heard on this issue by signing one of our online petitions:
If you live in MA, sign our petition calling on state legislators to move MA beyond plastic.
If you live in New Jersey, sign our petition to ask Senate President Nicholas Scutari to help keep plastic pollution out of our environment.
Pennsylvanians, tell your local officials to ban single-use plastic bags by signing this petition.
Virginians, sign our petition in support of producer responsibility.
North Carolinians take action and ask our Governor to eliminate plastics in our state agencies.
Take action to ban polystyrene foam in GA.
Illinoisians, tell your legislators to put wildlife over waste.
Californians can take action to eliminate plastic packaging in online retail here.
Oregonians can take action to ban polystyrene foam here.
Washingtonians, tell WA state legislators to support producer responsibility. Sign our petition.
No matter where you live, you can sign our petition calling on Whole Foods to move beyond plastic.
Together, we can move states, and our country, beyond plastic.
Vice President and Senior Director of State Offices, The Public Interest Network
Emily is the senior director for state organizations for The Public Interest Network. She works nationwide with the state group directors for PIRG and Environment America to help them build stronger organizations and achieve greater success. Emily was the executive director for CALPIRG from 2009-2021, overseeing a myriad of CALPIRG campaigns to protect public health, protect consumers in the marketplace, and promote a robust democracy. Emily works in our Oakland, California, office, and loves camping, hiking, gardening and cooking with her family.