A wave of change – ‘A Plastic Ocean’ Film Screening event wrap up

Sophie-May Kerr and Carrie Wilkinson reflect on the UOW Human Geography Society’s  A Plastic Ocean’ Film Screening event and the possibilities for real change through individual and collective action.   

Last week we hosted over 150 people at our sold out A Plastic Ocean film screening event. In addition to the film, we also had stalls hosted by representatives of local organisations committed to educating on the impacts of and reducing marine plastic pollution. It was so encouraging and inspiring to see so many people come together to be part of the wave of change that we so desperately need to combat the devastating global effects of plastic pollution.

The film was an important and graphic reminder that our actions and choices severely impact the planet. The key message from our panellists Andy Grey (Boomerang Alliance), Fiona Netting (Wollongong City Council) and Dr Leah Gibbs (School of Geography and Sustainable Communities and AUSCCER, UOW) was that there isn’t a better time than the present for us as consumers to take control of our actions and be part of the solution.

Since the screening event, we’ve been excited to hear from attendees who, like us, have been motivated to shift their behaviours; including making a concerted effort to take reusable shopping bags, pick up rubbish and try wherever possible to say no to single use plastics, such as straws and plastic bags. However small these habits might be, collectively they add up to make a difference.

The UOW Enviro Collective has also taken action at a wider scale to put pressure on the University of Wollongong to become a leader in waste management/reduction. A change.org petition calls for action on campus and has been signed by over 500 supporters in less than a week! You too can sign your name and share this petition with friends to keep up the momentum for a plastic bag free UOW campus. If you haven’t already done so, now is also a great time to put pressure on the Government to #BanTheBag in NSW, Victoria and WA.

As the peak campaign voice on waste and litter strategies in Australia, Boomerang Alliance is working hard to reduce Wollongong’s Plastic footprint. For those that missed the opportunity to sign up with Boomerang Alliance click here to join the Wollongong Taskforce, which will lead the charge this July when they introduce the ‘Communities Taking Control’ plan to Wollongong. For an overview of the plan to reduce single-use plastic in Wollongong click here. The Boomerang Alliance is also currently looking for super keen individuals/local businesses/organisations to join the ‘Wollongong Communities Taking Control’ committee, who will be invited to help develop and discuss the initiative in the lead up to July. For those who are interested email andy.gray@boomerangalliance.org.au

Photos from the night are now up on our Facebook page. Tag yourself in the photos and like us on FB or follow us on twitter @UOWHuGS to stay connected and find out about other events run by the UOW Human Geography Society. If you enjoyed the evening and would like to join our club formally, visit: clubs.uow.edu.au/clubs/human-geography-society/

Thanks to the support of UOW Unibar, we were able to ensure that no waste from our event ended up in landfill.


Thanks to our incredible stallholders and panellists for giving their time and invaluable insight to the issue of marine plastic pollution. You can find further information on each of these groups below:

Boomerang Alliance  is the peak campaign voice on waste and litter strategies in Australia, giving local communities power and influence in their struggle to stem the tide of waste polluting our playgrounds, parks, rivers and beaches. A current campaign, ‘Communities Taking Control’, aims to create guides for stakeholders to systematically reduce single-use plastic across the community.

Australian Seabird Rescue, South Coast Branch, is involved in a range of initiatives, including proactive patrols to identify/rescue sick and injured birds; rehabilitation of sea and shore birds; clean-ups of local waterways and boat ramps; fundraising and education campaigns. The Branch is committed to reducing the impact of plastic in the environment and has supported and promoted the introduction of the cash for container scheme in NSW and for the ban of single use plastic bags.

The Source Bulk Foods is heavily involved in the community and believes in supporting local issues and charities.  They are passionate about the environment and their stores are proudly plastic bag free. Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own  containers, bags and bottles to refill.

The role of the Environment and Strategy Planning Division at Wollongong City Council is to initiate, develop and coordinate delivery of waste avoidance and reuse programs and waste wise education to residents across the Wollongong Council area. The aim is to generate awareness of key waste issues by engaging the community and promoting positive attitudinal and behavioural change in residential waste management practices.

ORRCA (Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia) is the preeminent whale rescue organisation in Australia. ORRCA is also involved with the protection and welfare of seals, sea lions, dolphins and dugongs. Every year ORRCA trains many members of government agencies and volunteers in marine mammal rescue, protection and monitoring. ORRCA’s input is also sought when legislative bodies are amending existing laws or introducing new ones.

Surfrider Foundation is a non-for-profit organisation dedicated to the protection and enhancement of Australia’s coastal zone through Conservation, Activism, Research and Education (CARE). The Surfrider Foundation UOW Club is a hands-on initiative operated and run by University of Wollongong students to aid the current efforts of Surfrider Australia in the Illawarra region.


Sophie-May Kerr @SophieMayKerr1 and Carrie Wilkinson @CarrieW2536 are PhD Candidates with the School of Geography and Sustainable Committees and AUSCCER. You can read a previous post about the UOW Human Geography Society here.  

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