strategies for change

Policy Toolkit


Changing or creating laws to reduce or prohibit the distribution of single-use plastics in a community, a city, a state, or even a whole country is hard work, but it's possible. In fact, it's happening in many places right now! To change law, there are two important elements that you'll need to focus on:

  • Developing policy language or text that lays out exactly what the rules should be
  • Building public support for adoption of the new rules

Ways to Change Policy

Put it in Writing

Write to and meet with a local Decision-Maker

Write a letter to the editor of a major local newspaper

Organize a petition for a specific policy change in your school, club, or government leaders

One of the best ways to make your voice heard is through letters and petitions! Letters can be written to important decision-makers in your community, such as the administrators of your school or school district, the managers or owners of a local restaurant, or the mayor/governer of your city/state, asking them to consider passing policies that would reduce or ban single-use plastic items. You can also write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper advocating for policy change, and gain public support for policy change from the citizens who read your letter. Below are a few examples of letters to use as inspiration:

You can also create a petition for members of your school, community, or city to sign in favor of changing policy to get rid of single-use plastic. This shows decision-makers how much public support there is for policy change in your community. Petitions are great for getting the attention of larger decision-makers, such as the heads of government or larger corporations/food chains. Here are a few examples below:

Raise Awareness

Organize a social media challenge

Host a movie screening

Create a publicly displayed work of art made out of trash to raise awareness

One of the best ways to convince decision-makers to make a large policy change is to show how much public support there is from your community, and the best way to start rallying your community is to make people aware of the problem. Many people who live in your community may not know about the problem of plastic pollution, or how widespread the issue is. One of the best ways to create widespread awareness is through social media challenges. Social media challenges are precise, self-contained campaigns focused on getting as many people as possible educated about the problem of plastic pollution, and helping to spread the solution as well. This can be simple as using a hashtag like #StopSucking to advocate for less plastic straws, or #BantheBag to advocate for a ban on plastic bags. You can also host a movie screening of films that illustrate the impact of plastic pollution, such as Bag It.

Another way to make a huge statement about the impact of plastic trash in our lives is by actually showing people how much plastic trash is in our lives. It's easy to have an "out of sight, out of mind," mentality when we throw away single-use plastic, but being confronted with just how much plastic trash that ends up on our beaches or waterways can help people understand just how big the problem is. Consider taking a large collection of trash from cleanups you've done in your community and creating a work of art that can be publicly displayed to demonstrate directly to your community the problem of plastic trash.

Activate Your Community

Making a huge change in your community is hard for one person to do, so the best way to get support for policy change is to mobilize your community to help! After you've made your community aware of the issues surrounding plastic pollution, below are just a few of the ways you can encourage widespread action in your community. Having community members not only voicing their support of policy change, but actively demanding it of the policy makers in charge, is one of the most effective ways to get policy changed!

Organize a full community clean-up and send plastic trash to major decision-maker to illustrate the plastic problem

Join and actively participate in a local decision-making group

Create a Litterati Challenge

Examples in the News

Below are some examples of how other cities have implemented recycling programs, single-use plastic bans,
and other programs that have been successful in reducing plastic pollution! These examples are great to show to decision-makers as proof that policy change can be possible and effective in your community.

How San Francisco is leading the way out of bottled water culture

See how the city is getting rid of single-use plastic water bottles and making sure people have access to safe tap water.

Sweden's Bottle Recycling Scheme

This article gives a quick explanation of the recycling program Sweden has been using since the 1980s.

6 California bills that aim to reduce plastic litter and pollution

Here is an article highlighting several ways policy can be used to beat plastic pollution.

US cities that have banned plastic straws

A quick glance at which cities have taken the initiative to implement plastic straw bans.