- Maëlys Renaud
Plastic Free July: How pole dancers can end plastic pollution
Recently, scientists have stated they no longer believe there is any part of the planet remaining that is unpolluted by plastic waste.
My friend Damien Leloup, maritime archaeologist and explorer, presented to me his findings from the expedition “Altaussee 2019”: the purpose was to study the lakebed and collect water and sediment samples to determine the health of what appears to be a pristine alpine lake, nestled beneath the Loser Plateau in the Liezen district of Austria. What he shared with me is shocking: his team found microplastics and fibers in the samples of this supposedly pristine area. Other scientists recently discovered the presence of microplastics in human bodies! Regardless of how many times plastic is used, it will, one day, find its way to a landfill or to the environment, and to our bodies. Those findings are alarming and reducing our consumption of plastic is necessary to protect the living ecosystems as well as our health.
With every hobby comes the consumption of more products, and therefore, more waste. Pole dance is no exception to this. Today, in light of the Plastic Free July movement, I want to talk about the changes that I’ve made and hopefully that will inspire you to reduce (plastic) waste in your own lives.
1. Refuse, Refuse, Refuse
You’ve probably heard of the 3 R’s of waste? “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, what does that mean exactly? Here are a few rules that I set for myself:
Buy as little new plastic as possible, and refuse, refuse and refuse where possible.
Where plastic can’t be avoided, buy plastic that has already been recycled.
Where recycled plastic is not an option, choose plastic that can be recycled (honestly, even as a material chemistry major, this is difficult to figure out), or that can reasonably expect to be reused over time.
It is time to face it: the recycling system is dysfunctional in most countries and this is not a long term solution. Let’s reduce the plastic madness!
2. Join Plastic Free July
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution: this Australia charity has inspired 100+ million participants in 190 countries. It is a simple concept: participants are challenged to reduce their use of single-use plastics from their daily lives over a period of one month. The organization provides resources and ideas to help you reduce plastic waste everyday at home, work, school, or even at your local café! Ready to take the challenge? You can sign up here and receive tips, tricks and motivation to eliminate one or more single-use plastic items this month!
You can also tag @PlasticFreeJuly on social media and use the hashtag #PlasticFreeJuly.
3. In the daily life of a pole dancer
Food & Snacks. The biggest change I've made in the last few years is to commit weekly to going to the Farmers’ Market and bringing my own tote bags: it helps cut down most of the plastic packaging found in supermarkets while eating local and seasonal food, and supporting the farmers and the local economy. As a pole dancer, snacks are really important! Make your own, healthy and plastic free: no-bake energy balls to baked protein bars, simple and easy to use, or a combo of local nuts and seasonal fruits.
Skin & Hair care. Choose them packaging free! I used to hate soap bars because they felt gross but now plastic bottles freak me out! I also transitioned in 2020 to shampoo bars. I can only encourage you to do so! For the planet. And boycott personal care that contains microbeads.
Pole Dance Equipment. Pick sustainably sourced cork-based mat and blocks (instead of petrol-based ones!). Some of us get through more grip aids than others, but at some point, we’re all faced with the same end point – an empty bottle, or tub, or tube. Not all of these are recyclable either, unfortunately. So what can we do to make sure they don’t end up in landfill? Re-purpose them (for example into travel-size toiletries bottles). Or choose the Enviro Grip by pole dancer Kristy Sellars: I just tried it and I’ll stick with it. Have you tried it?
Pole wear. There’s something in a pole dancer’s DNA that craves to be stylish and bright. That’s fine. But for your training, choose in priority outfits that are bio-based and that will naturally biodegrade in the environment and nourish the soil: cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo… On the contrary, synthetic material will end up polluting it. They are eco-conscious pole wear out there: support them! Help raise demand for sustainable goods. Finally, the best thing to do at the end of the life of any clothing you don’t want anymore is to send it to a charity shop to make sure it stays in circulation. Stay in the loop for a series of posts on Pole Dance Fashion!
4. Harness the power of the pole dance communities
Organize a plastic free pole dance class at your studio! Plan locally (or an international online class!) a class where everyone dresses with natural fibers only and with no plastic heels (I love them, but they are made of plastic…). And only bio-based equipment. It is way more challenging than we think! Please tell me if you do so (dm me maelys_renaud) and share with me how it goes! And tag #poleforplanet!
5. Support local and global organizations
You can support nonprofits and charities that are doing the work! There are many ways to do this, just like we do to support each other within the pole dance community: follow them on social media, share campaigns, leave comments, share contents, donate money or volunteer, participate in local trash cleanups. Here are some of them:
ByeBye Plastic “Our mission is to encourage businesses and shoppers to replace single use plastic items like bags, straws and with reusable replacements to reduce the amount of single use plastic that ends up as pollution in the environment.”
Bye Bye Plastic Foundation “We are a disruptive foundation removing single-use plastics in the music industry.”
Plastic Free July “We provide resources and ideas to help you (and millions of others around the world) reduce single-use plastic waste everyday.”
Plastic Oceans “We aim to end plastic pollution and to foster sustainable communities
worldwide through four key pillars of activity: education, activism, advocacy & science.”
The Surfrider Foundation “We are dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network.”
Let’s do this together! Tell us in the comments how you reduce plastic consumption and waste.
Was this post helpful? If it was, please consider buying me a chaï latte! I actually often make it myself, using bulk chaï from my favorite local shop Wild Terra in Highland Park, Los Angeles, and honey from The Urban Homestead, a local urban farm where I volunteer. And all the loose tea then goes to our community compost. From now on, I’ll make a point to bring my own cup at the coffee shop so you won’t even be funding more plastic going to landfill!
Related to Free Plastic July 2022 theme, read the interview with French pole dancer Cami Camomille who used choreography and storytelling at Pole Theatre World 2019 to tell the audience about How plastic pollution is slowly suffocating the ocean and the interview with former member of INTERPOL’s Global Pollution Enforcement Team and plastic pollution expert: Bénédicte Niel.