Leading The Fight Against Marine Pollution | Banyan Workspace

Leading The Fight Against Marine Pollution

How Dana Winograd from Plastic Free Seas is #ChangingTheNatureOfWork

Dana Winograd Plastic Free Seas fighting marine pollution

Please tell us a little about yourself and your company’s story

I met Tracey Reid in Discovery Bay where we both lived when DB Green, a community green group, was formed 14 years ago. Tracey organised beach cleanups and I focused on driving recycling in DB. Wanting to know more about plastic marine pollution, Tracey decided to go on a research expedition through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2012. Seeing first-hand the extent of the problem, she realised that people in Hong Kong desperately needed to know about this global problem and more importantly the solutions, and that the best place to start was by educating young people. Shortly after her return, she went to the beach to try to find a few plastic pellets, or nurdles as they are called. To her surprise the beach was blanketed in pellets as 150 tonnes of them had fallen off of a ship during a typhoon. A huge Hong Kong-wide cleanup operation ensued, and Plastic Free Seas was born.

What does the phrase “changing the nature of work” mean to you? 

2020 has been challenging to say the least, yet we have seen that with the right mindset, and desire to succeed, many things can be achieved despite the circumstances. Changing our communication methods, the way we deliver services and products, even how and where we work, as well as learning new technologies has been necessary but it has also taught us that there are different ways of working that can be very effective. For me, changing the nature of work has to do with an having an open mindset and being adaptable, and embracing challenges as opportunities.

What actions do your team take to incorporate sustainability into your business?

Our entire reason for being – to educate on the issue of plastic marine pollution and provide people with this tools they need to help solve the problem – is rooted in sustainability. We choose reusable over single-use in our daily lives, and have encouraged the teams within our shared office to do the same. To minimise waste to landfill, we facilitate recycling within our office. We carefully consider any purchases, looking for second-hand, and buying quality items that will last. To reduce our carbon footprint we use public transportation whenever possible. 

What are some of the more challenging aspects of your business?

Translating knowledge and understanding of the plastic pollution problem into behaviour change is the most challenging aspect we face. Using single-use plastic is routed in convenience, and it is everywhere, often the only option, and more often the easiest choice. Convincing people that their one action is worthwhile, regardless of what everyone else around them is doing, can also be a hard sell, but the power of leading by example can be immensely impactful. 

In your opinion, what makes Hong Kong a great place to live and work?

Hong Kong is an amazing multi-cultural, cosmopolitan city with so much to offer: great food, museums, good public transportation and best of all safe. But what makes Hong Kong such an fantastic place to live and work is the proximity to nature, and the ease of accessing it. From almost anywhere in HK, you can reach a hiking trail or the sea, or both, within no time at all. 

Having survived 2020, can you share something that you learned from the experience?

People are adaptable and will find a way to make things work despite the challenges that life puts in front of them. I think we all learned that being forced to slow down is a good thing, and to appreciate what we have – our health, our family and friends, and the natural beauty that Hong Kong has to offer.

What excites you about your business in 2021 and beyond?

What excites me is unfortunately also what distresses me. The problem of plastic marine pollution is not going away, and there is still so much potential out there to make change happen and reduce society’s reliance on single-use plastic. I see this as an exciting opportunity, although I do wish for a time when Plastic Free Seas and organisations like ours will no longer be needed in the world.

Can you share with us one of your favourite quotes? Why does it resonate with you?

One of my favourite quotes is from Dr Jane Goodall: “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Reminding people that their actions can make an impact, that they can be part of the solution, is key. Not only do their choices matter, but they can influence others with their choices and actions.

What help or support are you looking for and how can our network get in touch with you?

Our biggest ask is that people use less single-use plastic. And take action in the community around you, whether that is at home, school, office, residential building, club or favourite restaurant, to create change that results in less plastic usage and less resulting pollution. If you would like more information, check out our website (www.plasticfreeseas.org) or contact me at dana@plasticfreeseas.org

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