The campaign was inspired by national Surfrider chapters. Rachel Marquardt | Mustang News

A team of students from student organizations Surfrider, EcoReps and Zero Waste Club have joined together to ban one of the most abundant products on campus: plastics.

The newly developed team has been meeting weekly and drafting a petition for the “Rise Above Plastics” campaign, a movement inspired by Surfrider chapters around the nation.

“The overall goal of this campaign is to bring awareness to people about the impacts of plastics on our environment and on human health, too, as well as encourage people to reduce their use as well as try to implement policies that will reduce the amount of plastic consumption for those people so they do not have to make as many conscious decisions,” environmental management and protection freshman and Surfrider Vice President Marissa Miller said.

Surfrider Vice President Marissa Miller highlights and annotates the “Rise Above Plastics” campaign guide provided by the Surfrider organization. Rachel Marquardt | Mustang News
Surfrider Vice President Marissa Miller highlights and annotates the “Rise Above Plastics” campaign guide provided by the Surfrider organization. Rachel Marquardt | Mustang News

The team will be tabling and performing zero-waste audits to increase students’ awareness of the campaign. A waste audit involves student volunteers taking trash from a specific location and sorting the trash to determine if it is being sorted correctly and which items are thrown away most.

According to Volunteer Sustainability Coordinator Colleen Trostle, the audits will not only help with the basic education of which bins waste goes into, but will also aid in developing a baseline and goals for their campaign.

“We will count out specifically the single-use plastics and weigh them. We are going to try to take them from populated areas or locations as well as take measurements to see where the single-use plastics are going and where they are found, as well as how much there is and if it wasn’t there, how much it would change our waste impact,” Trostle said.

Their first waste audit will take place May 29 on Dexter Lawn from 1 to 3 p.m. The team is looking for the majority of students, as well as staff and faculty to sign the petition once it is released. According to EcoReps member and mathematics freshman Annika Dean, who is in charge of drafting it, members have a goal of obtaining 500 signatures each.

“Nothing is really official right now, but the petition will be available at tabling events. With technology, the possibilities are endless and there are so many easy ways to upload it to the internet,” Dean said.

According to Miller, their campaign will first be looking to find alternatives for plastic straws on campus.

“I see a lot of ways and areas where Cal Poly can improve, and we are advertised as a very sustainable campus,” Miller said. “I think that in order to live up to that, they need to make these changes, and I think Cal Poly getting rid of straws, utensils [is a start]. There are so many alternatives and things you can do and I want to help them get there.”

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