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Matthew Furlonger - Warrior Youth
Out of a deep love for nature, Jess and I are making it our life's work to protect our planet and empower her people. In our personal lives, one area in which we do this is to reduce our plastic waste and do regular beach clean-ups, but we still felt like that isn't enough. We needed something that would address the issue at its source - us. So we created a high-impact movement activating changemakers and eco-warriors in our country to #KickThePlasticHabit. Thus Trash Mob began and the Kick The Plastic Habit video was shot, which went viral and has since been viewed almost 40 000 times and attracted over 18 700 engagements.
We hold Trash Mob activations outside supermarkets and invite shoppers leaving the store to undress their food and ditch all the unnecessary plastic into a designated trolley. We'd had enough of all the doom-and-gloom, so we made it our mission to engage and inform in the brightest, most actionable and energetic way possible. At the end of the activation, we return the plastic-filled trolleys to the supermarket. The message is two-fold: 1) To make shoppers acutely aware of the shocking amount of single-use plastic we buy, the role we play in and our contribution to this global crisis, and to begin making more responsible purchasing decisions; and 2) To the supermarkets - we're holding you accountable for the role you play in this crisis and the responsibility you have to your shoppers, their futures and the health of our planet. Enough is enough! To further empower all the Warriors out there and in response to many requests from fired-up youth all over the country, we created a downloadable info-pack on our website making it as easy as possible for people to recreate their own Trash Mob anywhere in the world. At the moment, we have been helping to coordinate future activations in three other cities around SA and have had our initiative presented on Facebook groups and pages globally.
To increase the campaign's impact and to encourage and reward Warriors taking a stand against this plastic crisis, we created the Trashback Challenge. This is the first of its kind globally, and incentivised anyone with a social media account to strip their shopping of unnecessary plastic packaging at the till, snap a photo, upload it with the Trashback Challenge hashtag and tag the supermarket concerned. This acted as a direct message to the supermarkets regarding their plastic use. Plastic-free grocers and other local businesses promoting plastic-free living sponsored gifts for the participants, which 1) promoted local plastic-free businesses and 2) spread awareness about our relationship with plastic, the damage it causes, solutions and our power to prevent this with conscious purchasing decisions. If we don't buy it, they won't make it! And if it's not made, it cannot end up in the ocean. This video introducing the challenge has been viewed over 10 000 times. We will be relaunching the Trashback challenge this summer with an exciting twist.