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Aspen Ideas Climate: Mirei Endara Champions Local Solutions to Solve Plastic Pollution

"Local initiatives like ours are necessary to achieve global climate goals. This is especially true for eliminating plastic pollution, which is largely driven by local consumption decisions"

The climate crisis is solvable and yet, sea levels continue to rise, and fire, drought, flooding, and extreme weather repeatedly plague community infrastructure, capacity, and health. What is our path forward regarding the Earth’s changing climate? The 2024 Aspen Ideas Climate Festival takes an interdisciplinary approach to this societally pertinent question and engages multilateral stakeholders, global and local policymakers, scientific experts, corporate leaders, inventors and innovators, artists, young leaders, influencers, and engaged members of the public to participate in discussions, excursions, and roundtables to address some of the world’s most pressing and complex climate risk mitigation challenges. One of which, Plastic Pollution, served as the panel topic for 2023 McNulty Laureate, Mirei Endara de Heras, Founder and CEO of Marea Verde. As a panelist for Taking Out the Trash: Solutions to Plastic Pollution and during her spark talk, Mirei shared her vital work leading a community-driven approach to tackling plastic pollution in Panama.

Millions of tons of plastic make their way into oceans every year, with humans estimated to ingest several grams of plastic every week. Local consumption decisions greatly impact the frequency of pollution. Marea Verde, “Green Tide,” is a nonprofit that combats pollution at the local level. Through the installation of the “Wanda” device–that collects plastic and waste before it reaches the ocean–Marea Verde serves as a proof point for the value of local initiatives in the fight against plastic pollution. The crisis, however, is more than just a local responsibility. In her Project Syndicate article, Reducing Plastic Pollution Requires Local Remedies, Mirei details the imperative partnerships between top-down efforts and on-the-ground initiatives towards the most effective solutions to curb the waste crisis, and urges international entities to recognize the value in strengthening local initiatives to remove and recycle existing plastic waste.

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