If you happen to’ve been to a Starbucks not too long ago, you might need seen one thing a bit of completely different about your iced espresso—did it include a straw? If it did, that received’t be the case for lengthy. Final summer time, the worldwide espresso chain introduced a plan to remove all plastic straws by 2020.
To many individuals, it’s only a straw. To actor, producer and environmentalist Adrian Grenier, it’s an encouraging step in sustainability that might have a huge impact on the plastic air pollution that plagues our oceans. Nicely often called the star of HBO’s Entourage, Grenier’s position as an activist could be his most fun but.
“There have been scientists and humanitarians and environmentalists who’ve been telling the story of man’s harmful path for lots longer than I’ve been alive, however have we listened?” asks Grenier. “No.”
He desires to inform the story otherwise. “There’s all the time room for reinventing the best way we are able to attain folks—[to] shake them out of their complacency, get them, seize their imaginations—in order that they’re not simply impressed by shopper storytelling and commercialism, however by tales of the soul.”
Our story opens in …
… New York, the place Grenier grew up with a mom who imbued him with a way of environmental duty that he would foster all through his life.
Quick ahead to Hollywood, 1999, when Grenier turned heads within the teen rom com Drive Me Loopy. Within the years that adopted, he made a reputation for himself in movies like The Satan Wears Prada and, after all, the present Entourage, wherein he performed struggling-actor-turned-film-star Vincent Chase. In a very Hollywood twist, Grenier’s Entourage alter ego performed Aquaman in a fictional James Cameron film—and now it appears Grenier resides the half in actual life.
Lower to current day: The 42-year-old actor has embraced the position of environmental advocate. He’s shedding a lightweight on vital issues like overfishing and plastic air pollution within the ocean, and he’s spearheading efforts to impact actual change. He’s additionally working along with his mom to construct an energy-efficient residence in Brooklyn, full with denim insulation and photo voltaic thermal heating.
“My mother taught me to wash my room,” he says with fun. “Now my room is the entire planet.” That makes for some fascinating metaphorical roommates—together with one which has revealed Grenier’s distinctive power as an environmental advocate with an actor’s and producer’s skillset: He is aware of story when he sees one.
The (actually very large) hero
He’s deep within the Pacific Ocean. He’s alone. And it appears like he doesn’t wish to be. Meet “52 Hertz,” a solitary whale that calls out, ready for a response that has by no means come. Named after the frequency of its tune, which is way increased than different whales’ calls, this whale has by no means had any sort of recorded interplay. Scientists have theorized that the whale is both a singular hybrid or that it suffers from a malformation that makes its name unimaginable for different whales to know.
Grenier was launched to 52 by pal and producer Lucy Sumner. Instantly, he felt his coronary heart go into overdrive. “My empathy meter went off the chart after listening to this story of this whale looking for connections,” he says. “The lonely whale had a possibility to carry folks collectively and … construct empathy in folks for one thing larger than themselves.” He provides that it’s ironic that the whale is a mythic creature that has the capability to talk on to our humanity, but we are able to’t talk with it. He even describes the whale as the last word “hero determine.”
Grenier and director Joshua Zeman launched a Kickstarter marketing campaign for a documentary movie to seek out the mysterious whale and inform its story. Bolstered by assist from movie star buddies like Leonardo DiCaprio and artist Shepard Fairey, together with the general public, Discovering 52 is now in post-production.
The (deceptively small) villain
The unanswered tune of 52 impressed greater than only a documentary. Able to dig in and encourage change, Grenier and Sumner co-founded the Lonely Whale Basis in 2015. Envisioned as an “incubator for brave concepts,” the muse works for a cleaner ocean by way of schooling, advocacy campaigns and enterprise partnerships designed to implement scalable options. In line with Lonely Whale govt director Dune Ives, the muse places “large power towards pushing the envelope on daring international initiatives to measurably cut back plastic air pollution.”
However the place to start? In spite of everything, an eye-popping eight million tons of plastic are tossed into the ocean annually.
“That’s a really upsetting actuality,” Grenier laments. “How will we sort out that? Can we try to sort out [it all], or will we do one thing that everyone can do simply and get folks concerned?”
Grenier and Lonely Whale determined to begin with one of many worst culprits of ocean waste: plastic straws. A single straw might not seem to be a lot, however when you think about that 500 million straws are tossed out by Individuals on daily basis, combating the straw turns into downright Herculean.
“There are lots of people on the market that wish to say straws are probably the most insignificant half … Nicely, if we are able to’t do straws, then how are we going to do the larger issues?” asks Grenier.
Thus, the Strawless Ocean initiative was born.
A battle begins
Seattle was the primary battleground of the Strawless Ocean initiative. Pushing to go “Strawless In Seattle,” Lonely Whale labored with enterprise leaders, restaurateurs and organizations just like the Seattle Mariners and the Port of Seattle to undertake strawless options. The hashtag #StopSucking inspired the general public to only say no to pointless straws. The consequence? In July 2018, Seattle turned the primary main metropolis to ban plastic straws.
Grenier refers back to the basis’s efforts in Seattle as a “gateway” marketing campaign. “I’m seeking to inform tales which are uplifting—[to] give folks a way of optimism and accessibility the place they really see themselves being a part of the change. We’re simply asking folks to do one thing quite simple,” he says. “However now that the gate has opened and now that individuals have joined us in taking part, we now have this momentum.”
The plot thickens
In June 2017, Grenier was designated as a UN Setting Goodwill Ambassador, elevating his profile as an activist even additional. As an envoy, Grenier has spoken about environmental points across the globe. He’s additionally been a vocal supporter of the UN’s #WildforLife marketing campaign, which advocated for the conservation of sawfish.
The actor is each honored and characteristically humble about his appointment. “After all, it offers an air of legitimacy, however I’m nonetheless doing the identical factor that I’ve all the time performed. Daily, I commit to creating a change in my life and sharing that change with others, and dealing with the UN … stretches [that change] world wide to different governments and different ambassadors or organizations.”
On World Setting Day this previous June, the UN known as for the elimination of plastic waste. That very day, India pledged to ban single-use plastics by the 12 months 2022, becoming a member of efforts in nations like Kenya and Britain.
A reckoning looms
Regardless of excellent news tales just like the one in India, it’s a daunting time for the local weather. It’s been a 12 months and a half for the reason that US withdrew from the Paris local weather change settlement, local weather change has resulted in deadlier storms than ever and the UN’s startling new report on international warming has shed new gentle on how dire the state of affairs is. Trying on the depth of the harm we’ve performed to the atmosphere can really feel like staring into an abyss.
Grenier understands the problem he’s up towards, however he believes in beginning small and staying constructive. “Look, in case you begin to take a look at the issues of the world, it’s very simple to place the pillow over your head and never get off the bed for the day,” he says. He’s a realist, however he will get turned off by the narrative of “‘we’re all going to die and there’s nothing you are able to do about it as a result of we people suck.’” He says, “There’s no hope in that. There’s no company.”
How will the story finish?
Giving folks a way of company and innovation is the place Lonely Whale units itself aside. What’s subsequent for a corporation that has already achieved a lot? First off, Grenier hopes to repeat the success the muse had in Seattle, each in public assist and laws, in different cities. Efforts are underway in NYC by Lonely Whale to remove straws. Grenier hopes to take the marketing campaign to Los Angeles too.
Lonely Whale can also be ramping up its efforts with Dell (Grenier is the tech firm’s first Social Good Advocate) within the NextWave initiative, which intercepts plastics headed for the ocean and as a substitute integrates them into corporations’ provide chains as merchandise or packaging. NextWave has already partnered with corporations like GM and Herman Miller.
“Adrian challenges Lonely Whale to assume exterior the field simply as he challenged Dell to create NextWave,” sums up Ives.
By harnessing the ability of storytelling and inspiring the general public to take small, life like steps, Grenier is main a brand new technology of activists right into a cleaner, more healthy future. Whereas Lonely Whale’s targets are as large as their mascot, Grenier stays grounded by holding issues easy. “Crucial factor is how we take care of each other,” he says. “If we do care, we are going to make the world higher. So don’t begin by making an attempt to save lots of the world. The planet shall be superb by itself. However in case you begin with any person with love and eager to make their world a bit of bit higher, you’ll naturally make the correct decisions.”
The numbers behind the story
- 10 metric tons of plastic make it into the ocean on daily basis within the Los Angeles space alone.
- 35 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away by Individuals yearly.
- >94,600 sq. miles of ocean have been dubbed “lifeless zones” as a consequence of air pollution. (That’s an space bigger than the UK.)
- 90% of trash floating on the floor of the ocean is plastic.
- >100,000 marine mammals die annually on account of plastic air pollution.
- 2050 is the 12 months wherein there shall be extra plastic within the ocean than fish (by weight) if we don’t change the story.
Feeling impressed to cease sucking on plastic straws, however nonetheless wish to slurp your rattling drink by way of a tiny tube generally? We really feel you. Attempt a silicone, metal or glass reusable straw, or paper straws in case you’re in a pinch. Our favourite straw options? The bamboo straws at strawfree.org. Each is handmade by volunteers within the USA, and all proceeds go to schooling and outreach about plastic air pollution. No extra being bamboo-zled by plastic!