Community Coalition hosts environmental discussion panel

"The Story of Plastic" documentary to air April 21 in honor of Earth Day

To-go cups, takeout boxes and shopping bags are all staples of a good night out in Savannah and water bottles and coffee cups are an easy fix on a busy workday. But the environmental cost of that ease is starting to add up. Plastic Free Savannah is spreading awareness of the dangers of the single-use plastics we use everyday with the virtual screening of the Story of Plastic documentary on April 21 in honor of Earth Day. The screening will be followed by a community discussion with a panel of local experts and activists.

PFS is a new community coalition made up of plastic activists, nonprofits, businesses, residents and scientists who want to make a change and find solutions to single-use plastics in Savannah. The Story of Plastic is a feature length film that highlights the impact the plastic pollution crisis is having on our world. Participants can register online to be a part of the event and will be sent a link to view the documentary for free as well as a zoom link to view the community discussion. The documentary will be available to watch for a week following the event and all are invited to join in and listen to the panel.

Photo courtesy of Plastic Free Savannah
Through the discussion PFS hopes to contextualize the issue of plastics within Savannah.

“We want to talk about it from the Savannah perspective,” said Katie Rodgers-Hubbard, a member of the events team at PFS and local owner of Lite Foot Company, a sustainable home goods business. “How does this impact us living in Savannah or the surrounding area? What can we be doing to make a change? So that is why our panelists will speak specifically on the local context.”

The community discussion panelists will consist of Paulita Bennett-Martin, a field representative at Oceana as well as the organizer of PFS, Dr. Joe Pfaller, a research director for the Caretta Research Project and Hermina Glass-Hill, an executive director for Susie King Taylor Women’s Institute and Ecology Center and Coastal Engagement Associate for Georgia Interfaith Power and Light.

“We really wanted to be mindful about three different perspectives,” said Rodgers-Hubbard.

These perspectives are that of a scientific approach, an activist approach and a community advocate approach filled by Pfaller, Bennett-Martin and Glass-Hill respectively.

The organization hopes to educate Savannah area residents about plastic pollution through this event and promote other Earth Day events happening this month as well as inviting everyone to sign their petition to end single-use plastic in Savannah. PFS encourages anyone with a passion for the environment to join and help make an impact.

New to Savannah, Rodgers-Hubbard found community within the group.

“Moving to a new place in a pandemic, you don’t meet a lot of people,” Rodgers-Hubbard said. “So, I think for me it’s been great because I’ve connected with all of these people who are like-minded or have come from different backgrounds but have the same focus and passion.”

Photo courtesy of Plastic Free Savannah
This push of activism follows the recent Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act introduced by Congress that includes requiring producers of certain single-use plastic and paper products to take responsibility for collecting and recycling product waste and materials as well as a new fee imposed on carry-out bags. With global and national progress, the community coalition is focusing on local change.

“The environmental problems, they’re huge, right?” Rodgers-Hubbard said. “Sometimes that can be overwhelming. But, I think plastic is a very tangible thing for people to understand. They buy it, they use it everyday ... so, I think that is the first step, focusing on very tangible things ... and then we can spread out to some of the bigger things.”

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