My Project AWARE Ocean Hero year is building momentum across Central America! Hundreds of people in audiences in Panama and Guatemala were shocked and moved to action by the science and advocacy action efforts I shared in several lectures. They learned, most for the first time, that plastic marine debris is killing sea turtles, seabirds, and whales and the toxic chemicals in plastic are entering seafood and ourselves. At each stop, I asked the audience "Would you support a law to ban plastic bags in your city?" and overwhelming the answer was "¡Sí,!" (yes!).
This amazing adventure was a partnership with the non-profit Plastic Pollution Coalition, Project AWARE, and SeaTurtles.org. We were making major waves in Panama and Guatemala, sharing information about the health issues, environmental issues, and related socio-economic issues surrounding single-use and disposable plastic. Plastic pollution in the marine environment entangles and drowns sea turtles, and when sea turtles mistake plastic garbage for their food and ingest it the toxic plastic can reduce their growth, cause stomach blockage, or even death.
The expert panel of speakers on "The Truth Behind Plastic" Central America tour were Greg Baxter, Ph.D, a cancer research specialist, the trip leader, Plastic Pollution Coalition Executive Director, Daniella Russo, and me, Chris Pincetich, Ph.D, of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. The partner organizations in Central America included ANCON (Panama) and ABIMA (Guatemala).
At each stop, 100-200 public participants gathered to hear from the expert panel.
My Project AWARE Ocean Hero support allowed me to print and distribute hundreds of informational postcards about the harms of marine debris to sea life (composed in Spanish of course) to participants, local non-profits, and educators.
A collection of photographs from the "The Truth Behind Plastic" Central America tour are posted on Facebook. Click here to view the photo album. To learn more about our work fighting plastic pollution, click here.