The last day of the Break Free From Plastics meeting was kept for communications. How can we be more effective in getting across our stories to citizens, governments, and corporates? This session was led by Dancing Fox, a group that works to “help change makers tell their story, and help storytellers change the world”. There are several types of stories we can tell, at various levels and to different audiences (Figure 1).To effect change, we want to create stories about successes, challenges, materials in our journey to a plastic-free world. We would want to amplify certain stories that convey that we can act individually and collectively for a plastic-free world, things can be repaired and reused, and products should be designed to last – not to be disposable after one or few uses. And of course, we would want to debunk stories that advance myths such as change is impossible or too expensive, plastics are safe and climate friendly, and that technology will save us.
Figure 1: Stories we want to tell. Source: Dancing Fox, Break Free From Plastics meeting
However, this story is not only about plastics. Plastics are only a part of the problem and is embedded within the disconnect of humans from nature and soil. It is part of our obsession with growth at all costs, the global movement of goods and urbanisation, all of which we assume will support our fast lifestyles with limited responsibility (Figure 2).
Figure 2: The plastic pollution matrix. Source: Dancing Fox, Break Free From Plastics meeting
The Break Free From Plastics movement is one of many efforts that are working to prevent plastic pollution and its associated factors, and the Plastics Solution Fund is key to this (Figure 3). The Fund is an international funder collaborative that is working to turn the tide on plastics. The BFFP movement emerged from years of disparate efforts to address plastic pollution, fossil fuel extraction and environmental degradation through sustainable production and consumption, zero waste practices, corporate campaigning for product and business model redesign, and policy advocacy. This commitment was finalised in Tagatay, the Philippines in 2016 with close to 100 civil society groups signing the commitment.
Figure 3: The story of the Plastics Solution Fund. Source: Dancing Fox, Break Free From Plastics meeting
One key story within this entire story universe was how capitalism and the belief in unlimited growth is unsustainable. It is a powerful story that needs an equally powerful story to challenge it. It is obvious that infinite growth cannot be sustained and we need to embrace de-growth and a circular system (Figure 4)
Figure 4: Growth is not infinite. Source: Dancing Fox, Break Free From Plastics meeting