“Plastics.” This was the visionary advice given to Dustin Hoffman’s character in the movie, “The Graduate.” It was sage advice for a character looking to make a fortune in the 1960s. The use of plastics around the world has made enormous impacts on our culture, economy and environment. But, as the saying goes, too much of a good thing spells trouble. One Valley business owner, Ann Siner of My Sister’s Closet, has made it her mission to make sure her business no longer contributes to the plastic pollution epidemic. Her campaign is called #H8PLSTC, and she’s blazing the trail of single-use plastic-free business practices in Arizona.
Green Living: What was the inspiration behind the #H8PLSTC campaign?
Ann Siner: It started about four or five years ago when I walked into one of our break rooms, looked at the table and saw tons of half empty water bottles that I knew would get thrown away that night. It just hit me: what happens to all this plastic? We’re just one little company doing all this. I started looking into the problem. It was disgusting! Right now the prediction is that by 2050 plastic will outweigh marine life in the ocean. We can’t let this happen! It’s sad. I don’t think people think about it. They just go on their merry way. You order a drink and it comes in a plastic cup with a plastic lid and a plastic straw. I’ve become nothing short of fanatical about it.
GL: What steps have you taken at My Sister’s Closet to eliminate single-use plastic?
Ann Siner: When you’re a new hire at My Sister’s Closet, we give you a reusable water cup and explain that single-use plastic water bottles are not allowed. We put an Elkay water filtration system in all of our shopping centers. Employees really have no excuse to buy a bottle of water. We use a big steel Gaylord system instead of plastic bags for our donations, and we use limited life cycle garbage bags. They’re a little more expensive, but they’re compostable.
We’re big on training in all aspects of the business, and our anti- plastic PowerPoint is the lead-in when we have a training session. I use it to show pictures of all the landfills, water and everything filled with plastic to explain why we have taken such a strong stance.
GL: What kind of impact do you expect this movement to make on your company’s culture?
Ann Siner: The basis of our company is all about recycling and reusing. This is one more step in that direction. It did cost us quite a bit of money when we decided not to use plastic shopping bags. We got those bags at four cents apiece. The paper replacements are 24 cents apiece. It costs us about $20,000 more for these bags. I think it’s a small price to pay. I would love to get all the grocers on board. I think it would be outstanding to see Phoenix take the lead instead of being seen as an anti-environment place. Let’s take the lead and not wait for it to be mandated by the government.
GL: What are your company goals in the creation of this #H8PLSTC campaign?
Ann Siner: I want to show other businesses that it can be done and it’s not that difficult. Until other major companies get behind it, it’s going to take a grassroots effort to educate people on why they should not use single-use plastic.