9 Ways People Like You Fought Single-Use Plastics this Month

But not for long — people all over the world are putting the pressure on corporations and retailers to break free from plastic.

Over the past month, leading up to Earth Day, over a million people signed petitions calling on big companies to do their part to end single-use plastics. But for Greenpeace volunteers, that wasn’t enough.

People everywhere took action in their communities, talking to customers in supermarkets, collecting plastic waste and identifying the corporations responsible for producing it, and creating some really beautiful art to spread the word about this important issue.

Here are nine of our favorite ways people took action to push corporations to end single-use plastics in April. If these inspire you, check out the Million Acts of Blue toolkit and plan something in your own community — be sure to let us know what you’re up to in the comments!

1. A cleanup at the Batu Caves in Malaysia

Break Free from Plastic Activity in Batu Cave, Malaysia © Han Choo / Greenpeace

Greenpeace volunteers unfurl a #BreakFreeFromPlastic banner next to the iconic Lord Murugan statue in Batu Caves, Malaysia. © Han Choo / Greenpeace

The Batu Caves are one of Malaysia’s most popular and iconic sites. They’re not just beautiful, but culturally important as they hold a Hindu shrine and represent Malaysia’s cultural and religious diversity. Last week, forty Greenpeace volunteers cleaned up the caves and gave a cultural tour.

2. Storming Spanish supermarkets

Volunteers in Spain have been working hard to get supermarkets to reduce plastic packaging in their products, especially fruits and vegetables. In April, local groups visited supermarkets in 27 cities around the country to talk with customers about plastics, collect excessive packaging and return it to the supermarkets.

3. Replacing plastic bags in the UK

Earth Day Break Free from Plastics Actions in UK © John Cobb / Greenpeace

On Earth Day, Greenpeace volunteers across London provided sustainably sourced recycled paper bags marked with the text “End Ocean Plastic” in local supermarkets to replace the single-use fruit and vegetable bags supplied in the stores. © John Cobb / Greenpeace

Greenpeacers have also been working hard to get plastics out of supermarkets in the United Kingdom. So far, local groups have visited 77 stores, where they’ve removed the plastic bags used for fruits and vegetables and replaced them with paper bags that double as a leaflet about plastic pollution.

4. A plastic man in Senegal

With the help of “Plastic Man” — a public figure who raises awareness of the dangers of plastic pollution — Greenpeace volunteers in Senegal held fun-filled education and awareness sessions at a local high school. It can be hard to keep teenagers’ attention, but they probably noticed this guy!

5. A sand turtle against single-use plastics

Earth Day Break Free from Plastics Action in Mexico © Oscar Martinez / Greenpeace

Ahead of Earth Day 2018, Greenpeace Mexico activists created a huge sand sculpture depicting a sea turtle to highlight the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans. © Oscar Martinez / Greenpeace

Artists around the world created beautiful sand sculptures to call attention to the problem of single-use plastics — which often end up polluting our beaches. In Mexico, artists sculpted a huge sea turtle on a beach in Veracruz and volunteers called on seven of the biggest plastic polluters to clean up their ways!

6. A plastic pool in South Africa

On Earth Day, volunteers in South Africa worked with a sand artist to create beautiful sand sculptures and a plastic waste pool.

7. Sand sculptures across Europe

Earth Day Beach Art Installation in Spain © Bill Hunter / Greenpeace

Beach artist Marcelo van Es created this replica of the Million Acts of Blue logo with his art installation on a beach near Cadiz, Spain. © Bill Hunter / Greenpeace

Greenpeace partnered with the European Environmental Bureau on these gorgeous plastic-themed sand art displays that appeared on beaches in six countries throughout Europe in the weeks leading up to Earth day.

8. An unbelievable river cleanup in Kenya


In Kenya, 200 people volunteered to clean up the Nairobi River, with amazing results. What was once a riverside full of bottles and other kinds of plastic waste is now stunning!

9. And another amazing river cleanup and brand audit in Washington, DC

A dozen Greenpeace volunteers participated in a cleanup of the Anacostia River, where they collected 14 pages of data about which brands were responsible for the plastic waste collected (and lots of plastic straws).


This is just the beginning! Want to get in on this action and help create a plastic-free future? Download the Million Acts of Blue toolkit and get started in your community!

*Jen Fela is a global engagement specialist with the plastics campaign for Greenpeace USA.

Jen Fela’s article was published in Greenpeace. Go to ORIGINAL. 

2018 Human Wrongs Watch

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