Sept. 1 will see the inauguration of Plastic Free September at Reykjavík City Hall. The campaign, now in its second year, aims to raise awareness about environmental problems stemming from the use of plastic.
The proceedings will be inaugurated by Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, after which EU Ambassador to Iceland Michael Mann will talk about the EU’s policies on matters pertaining to plastic.
The event will feature a pop-up market where several retailers will promote plastic-free alternatives to products usually made from plastic. Among the retailers featured are Bambus (toys), Mena (cosmetics), Mistur (various household products), Klaran (kitchen products), Plan Toys Ísland, and Styngvi Designs (prints & apparel), in addition to several others.
Held for the first time to great acclaim in September 2017, the campaign promotes practical methods for replacing plastic with more sustainable alternatives. No area is left untouched: plastic-free child care, laundry, cooking, food storage, pet care, grocery shopping, cosmetics, and transportation are all covered comprehensively.
The campaign also draws attention to the pervasiveness of plastic in our daily lives. Going through the list is eye-opening. In addition to the ubiquitous plastic bag, there is also packaging for fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, cosmetics, and cleaning products; drinking straws, plastic cups in restaurants, soda bottles, dog waste bags, and cling film; and virtually every home appliance and electronic device you can think of.
“We also go to schools and workplaces throughout September and give educational talks,” says biologist Elsa Eysteinsdóttir, one of the 11-woman group behind the campaign. “The demand has increased significantly since last year, so we’re definitely feeling increased interest from people. It’s obvious that last year’s campaign worked because people are ready and willing to participate this time around.”
“We chose September because it’s a month of change,” she says. “Summer is over, new beginnings are underway — it’s a good time to make a change.”
A tremendous amount of plastic ends up in oceans and landfills every year, and the consequences are disastrous because plastic doesn’t break down in the environment. It stays intact for thousands of years, leeching pollutants into the water in addition to fatally entangling and poisoning wildlife. Some researchers have indicated that if nothing is done to reverse the trend, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight, by as soon as 2050.
That’s less than 35 years away.
Plastic Free September at Reykjavík City Hall, Saturday, Sept. 1, 12PM-4PM
In addition to the pop-up market, the opening festival will feature educational and promotional events running throughout the duration. Entry is free of charge.