Monday, June 9, 2014

Jack Johnson and Sustaining Hope

When we were asked to be a All At Once partner at the Jack Johnson concert we were so excited, we went through a million ideas of how we could reach people.  We didn’t want to create more waste by giving out brochures and handouts and the All At Once camp wasn’t a fan of that either. It would be against what we both try to promote, reduce waste. So we had to get very creative, and our POP, Inc. team nailed it.  With the help of the UNCW Sailing Club, thank you Jeff Pyle, we decided to retrofit a retired sail to hang in our booth for concertgoers to write their pledge to reduce waste. Next we wanted to make something concertgoers could take a picture of and have fun with. Then came the idea of Ollie the Octopus, a cardboard cutout of an Octopus entangled with single-use items with a head size cutout for photo opts. To promote POP, Inc. and All At Once, we ordered some plastic-free body stamps with our logo and web address.  This way people could take home our logo and website hands-free.

“I am the solution to plastic pollution,” crowned Ollie the Octopus’s head, and he was a hit. Humorously initiating conversation, people would step right up to get a photo opt with him, enticing others to come right over too.  Once under our tent we showed them a sample we collected from the North Pacific Garbage Patch and plastics collected that were half eaten by marine life.  This allowed us the opportunity to share the work we are doing with students, open-ocean research, collaboration we share with other non-profits, and our efforts to try to minimize our negative impact from trash on the environment.  They were engaged and loved taking pictures with Ollie, sharing it on their social media and hopefully starting a conversation of their own with their friends and family. It was so awesome seeing how many people really seemed to ‘get it’ by writing great pledges on the sail. Everyone got into the act including our own photo opt with Jack Johnson in front of our sail.
Many of the pledges were from the little ones with wonderfully intuitive things to say.  One little guy pledged, “I will reyos and resicle all day and evry day of my life.”  Families pledged they would recycle together, stop using straws and bring their own bags.  Many left our tent marked by awareness and a temporary POP, Inc. tattoo. It was such an uplifting experience, we left full of energy and overjoyed with the feeling that we changed how people looked at single-use plastic.
The last few months had been wearing on us and we felt as though we weren’t connecting with people or making a difference.  This experience rejuvenated our hope for a future less condemned by plastic waste.  To say we are grateful to Jack Johnson and the All At Once campaign would be an understatement, we gained so much more than the monetary value.  We left that concert renewed and ready to charge forward educating, researching and ultimately finding a way to help clean up the ocean. 
Tricia Monteleone