Ted talks about plastic free and zero waste

11 Ted Talks about Zero Waste and Plastic Free Living

Every corner of the earth is facing a plastic epidemic. Beaches and oceans are continuously affected by it but fortunately, more and more people are starting to take a stance. With this change in attitude, there’s also a whole bunch of zero waste talks and plastic-free talks out there to inspire us all. Below we’ve collected some of our favourites.

As more people are now looking to live a zero-waste life or go plastic-free, awareness is growing and the pioneers are showing us just how much can be achieved. Whereas the task of removing all plastic waste from the planet is impossible, we can all do our bit to reduce, reuse and recycle. So, it is not about finding a solution for what has happened, it is about finding a solution for what could happen.

To give our planet a chance, our individual actions matter. Today, leading individuals in the zero waste movement have shown that living a zero-waste life is totally possible. What’s more, saying no to plastic bottles, swapping out single-use plastic packaging and even entire communities going plastic-free is not only trendy, it's also essential for the health of our planet. Whereas there is an abundance of information out there, some of it can seem conflicting.

As such, the following talks all help to highlight the problems we face. From plastic waste to the impact on marine life, to change the way we live as well as our habits. Further, these talks can inspire change, not only helping to highlight the problems but also lead into the solutions and how we can all do our bit to help reduce the environmental impact of plastic on our planet.

11 TED Talks Inspiring Plastic Free and Zero Waste Living

#1 - Can One Straw Change the World?

Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff

Can one straw save the world

If you want to understand the basics of plastic pollution then give this talk a listen. Here Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff discusses disposable single-use plastic, and in particular the environmental impact of plastic straws. She also talks to packaging through to how single-use plastic finds its way into our oceans. And even how some of it ends up being consumed by humans. She also touches on the facts related to recycling and even the newer compostable plastics.

The talk highlights why some of these supposed improvements are not so effective after all. As a result, she presses us to change our ways when it comes to single-use plastic. She provides ideas and ways in which we can ease plastic pollution too. There’s a good chance she knows what she’s talking about too, Rachel is an executive director at the 5 Gyres Institute, the very same people that discovered plastic microbeads.

Watch on YouTube

#2 - Why I Live a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Lauren Singer

Why i live a zero waste life

A popular blogger, Lauren has already taken to a life of zero-waste after having been previously a sustainability manager at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. In this talk, she discusses the changes she made in order to remove plastic from her life. She explores the benefits such as healthier eating habits and money-saving too.

Her talk aims to make you think about reducing the amount of plastic you waste. What’s more, Lauren also highlights how easy it is to do it. To quote: "We don't need a few people doing zero-waste perfectly: we need millions doing it imperfectly."

Watch on Youtube

#3 - Why Plastic Pollution is Personal

Natalie Fee

Plastic pollution is personal

Natalie Fee believes in stopping plastic pollution at its source. She feels so strongly about it, she has founded and grown her own organisation that is committed to doing it. City to Sea as it is known, aims to stop plastic pollution, especially plastic flushed down the loo.

Spurred on by plastic waste on the beaches close to her home, city to sea has gone from strength to strength. Today they campaign across a range of plastic related issues, from plastic-free travel, plastic bags, to unflushables such as wet wipes, nappies and incontinence pads.

Natalie prompts us to ask questions about the single-use plastic we purchase. As a result, she believes that we can win the fight, just by making a few small changes.

Watch on Youtube

#4 - Amphibian Activism

Hugo Tagholm

Amphibian Activism

Surfers Against Sewage CEO, Hugo Tagholm, talks about plastic waste here. This charity, based in the UK, aims to reduce plastic waste on our beaches [6]. A keen surfer, he explains how surfers against sewage help with the benefit of thousands of volunteers and 60 chapters to keep beaches clear of plastic in the summer.

He explains his background and passion for the outdoors and what motivates him to passionately pursue cleaner beaches. Walk along the Perranporth beach littered with plastic, which he uses as an example, and it is clear to see just how big the problem is.

He highlights the fact that the problem is close to home. He promoted the idea that we need more awareness and action too.

Watch on Youtube

#5 - Two Adults, Two Kids, Zero Waste

Bea Johnson

Two adults, two kids, zero waste

Bea Johnson is a big driver behind the zero waste movement. She believes in living a life that is free of waste but not quality. One of the early pioneers in the zero waste movements, Bea has committed, with her family, to living a zero-waste life and has done so since 2008.

An accomplished speaker, Bea is also the winner of the Green Awards Grand Prize. In this talk, she expands on her work inspiring a global movement and encouraging more and more people to reduce the needless waste that is part of our everyday lives. To do so she outlines a number of the benefits of going zero waste. In fact, her aim is to enhance her life through being healthier, freeing up money and by giving her more time to enjoy it.

Watch on Youtube

#5 - What If We Refuse Trash?

Andrea Sanders

What if we refuse trash

This intriguing talk focuses on our throw-away society. Referencing an old clip of her grandparents, here Andrea outlines her passion and approaches to zero waste by referring back to a generation that reused what they could. Therefore, this talk delves into how we view belongings and items.

She touches on how previously goods lasted longer and therefore, we had more appreciation for them. Along with this, she discusses the way we have changed to an economy with a more simplistic attitude to what we consume. Buy it, use it and throw the remains away.

Andreas is the creator of Be Zero, a nonprofit that inspires people to rethink the amount of plastic waste and trash that they generate. Drawing on these experiences, she also provides a set of principles. These are principles that we can use to help underpin a zero-waste economy.

Watch on Youtube

#6 - Our Campaign to Ban Plastic Bags in Bali

Melati and Isabel Wijsen

Our campaign to ban plastic bags in Bali

Here Melati and Isabel talk to the plastic bag problem in Bali. Two sisters, they found that nearly every plastic bag in Bali makes its way into the waterways. As a result, they started their campaign to ban plastic bags when they were just ten and twelve years old.

The talk discusses using reusable shopping bags. These two hugely capable young activists point to the work that the government can do to make Bali plastic-bag free.

However, what is interesting is the way the talk focuses on the younger generation. They mention that children make up 25% of the population yet they are 100% the future of our planet. As a result, they are the ones to help make the change. And in doing so Melati and Isabel inspire other young people to also take action and get involved in their cause.

Watch on TED

#7 - The Non-Disposable Life

Lindsay Miles

Our non disposable life
Lindsay Miles once believed she was fairly green because of the way she used reusable bags and did her bit for recycling. Her story ably told in this talk reveals how she soon realised she could do more.

Her starting point was plastic-free July, a single month that turned into a lifelong commitment. She has not only gone plastic-free but she has removed disposable packaging from her life completely. Through this talk, she encourages us to change, helping us to see how easy it is to make better choices.

Watch on Youtube

#8 - The Surprising Solution to Ocean Plastic?

David Katz

The surprising solution to ocean plastic

Taking a different approach to tackling the plastic problem, this is about plastic pollution. Here Katz shares his ideas around how to deal with plastic pollution in developing countries. As such, Katz has created a concept that he calls ‘Social Plastic’ and the plastic bank.

The “plastic bank” gives people the chance to make money on the plastic they collect. It also allows them to borrow money against its value. The plastic they collect is then sold on. This works by helping to ease poverty and also reduce the plastic footprint that waste creates.

Essentially, it is like using plastic as a currency. As a result, encouraging people to clean up and think about their behaviours at the same time.

Watch on TED

#9 - Cut the crap: waste is history

Kristine Ullaland

Cut the crap waste is history
Kristine Ullaland, a social anthropologist, made the transition to a near-zero waste lifestyle after realising how many disposable products she used. Inspired by Bea Johnson (above) she actively set out to begin reducing the waste she was creating.

To begin with, she wasn’t sure it would work, proving quite how much is possible she now lives a life that is zero waste. This talk helps to inspire others to act by encouraging us all to care about where our waste goes. She also discusses our lack of care for where our products come from. Essentially, highlighting how many are unaware that a problem is present.

So, she asks consumers to consider their items and where they come from. Along with this, she asks them to question whether they need the items anyway.

Watch on Youtube

#10 - How to Live a Plastic-Free Life

Alexis McGivern

How to live a plastic free life
Just like many of us, Alexis was someone who would use a lot of plastic. However, she now encourages us to think about the plastic we use, and how when it's discarded it can cause numerous problems as a percentage of it makes its way into our oceans.

In this talk, she highlights how easy it is for us to not realise the impact of our waste. This is especially true because of how easy it is to simply throw it away, whilst failing to stop and consider what happens next. To inspire us all to play a larger role in reducing the impact of ocean plastics, she also shares insights into the items that she relies on to help her avoid disposable plastic.

Watch on Youtube

A Little Inspiration From Plastic Waste TED Talks Can Go a Long Way

The truth is, many of us are disconnected from the problems we face. Plastic waste is a menace that can still, despite increasing awareness, be difficult to recognise day today.

All these talks come from people who have made the switch to a plastic-free or zero waste life. They show us that it is possible. They also show us the impact this waste can have. So, the talks can inspire us and guide us on the path to changing the way we live while helping the future of our planet.

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