Georgia declares Feb. 15 plastic pollution awareness day

Georgia State CapitolThe Georgia State Capitol as seen on Jan. 5, 2017. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Fourteen-year-old environmental activist Hannah Testa partners with Georgia State Senator Michael Williams to proclaim Feb. 15, 2017 as Plastic Pollution Awareness Day at the State Capitol.

The first of its kind nationwide, Testa spearheaded the resolution alongside Senator Williams to educate Georgians about the growing plastic pollution crisis. Testa’s goal is to reduce consumption of single-use plastic products such as bottles, straws and bags on at least one day per year.

“We want to make Georgia residents aware of the horrific impact that plastic pollution has on our environment,” said Testa, who founded the organization Hannah4Change in 2014. “Not only does plastic end up on our streets, in our streams and our oceans, but it also affects 600 species of marine life through ingestion and entanglement, sometimes even killing them. While it’s harmful for our marine life, scientists have even found plastic in our food chain too.”

Recent reports show that 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250,000 tons are floating at sea, up to 80 percent of plastic in oceans comes from land-based sources and an estimated 5-13 million tons of plastic enter oceans each year. Senator Williams and Testa will introduce their plastic pollution resolution to the Senate Chamber at approximately 11 a.m. on Feb. 15, and an exhibition will be held from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. in room 123 of the State Capitol Building and is open to the public.

“I’m very impressed by Hannah’s efforts, especially by someone of her age,” said Senator Williams. “By educating the public, we can help people to make informed decisions.”

The exhibitor event will feature guest speakers from leading environmental organizations including Charles Orgbon from Greening Forward, John R. Seydel from the city of Atlanta and Lia Colabello from 5 Gyres. Testa will also speak about sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics, such as Aardvark paper straws.

“We are proud to partner with Hannah on her brave initiative to change her local community’s relationship with single-use plastic products like plastic straws,” said Dave Hooe, president and CEO of Aardvark’s parent company Precision Products Group, Inc. “Her work has led to restaurants making the switch from plastic to durable, eco-friendly paper straws and we are thrilled to offer our Made in the USA product to more Georgians on Plastic Pollution Awareness Day.”

To commemorate Plastic Pollution Awareness Day and encourage engagement from others, Testa created a quilt to showcase commitments from local residents and businesses detailing actions they will take to reduce their use of disposable plastic products. This quilt, along with large sculptures and artwork constructed from plastic debris by North Carolina ocean scientist, Bonnie Monteleone, and Atlanta artist, Mitch Cherry, from the Primitive Urban Living artist group, will also be on display during the exhibitor event.

For more information about Plastic Pollution Awareness Day, please visit http://www.hannah4change.org/.

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