Plastic Free QAC, Inc. let no grass grow under their feet when awarded a Community Engagement Mini-Grant last November through the Chesapeake Bay Trust for a series of informational events regarding the effects of plastic pollution on waterways and reusable bags as better alternatives to plastic.
Plastic Free QAC (PFQAC) is grassroots, non-profit organization committed not only to beautifying Queen Anne’s County but also in changing behavior and empowering residents and businesses to make more environmentally friendly choices day to day. Only in existence for 2 years, they started with a handful of trash cleanups along county roads and waterways and grew to reusable bag distribution events throughout the County and partnerships with environmentally friendly businesses, other local non-profits. PFQAC conducted 16 monthly cleanups, each 1/4 mile in length, adding up to 4 miles. A total of 944 plastic bags were collected and counted from the 8 most recent cleanups.
Their award through the Chesapeake Bay Trust Community Engagement Mini-Grant program (their first-ever grant-supported project) gave PFQAC the chance to build an outreach plan committed to raising awareness of the detrimental impacts of single-use plastics and sustainable options available through supermarket events; tabletop presentations at churches, libraries, and community centers; trash clean-ups; and hands-on art activities to engage children. All of the educational and tabletop materials produced through this grant provide the foundation for the organization’s future efforts throughout the County.
One of the big issues to be addressed when applying for this Trust grant program is the replication or interpretation of a project in other areas of the watershed to enable other groups in other areas to leverage ideas. PFQAC strongly noted already valuable lessons learned including the importance of strong partnerships with local nonprofits, use of powerful visuals such as pictures and videos, sound research on purchasing costs, messaging tailored to specific audiences, methods for recruitment of volunteers, expanded outreach using social media and a variety of other communications tools, as well as effective record keeping and data collection.
PFQAC is experienced in organizing and completing environmental projects and you may have seen them at 2019 Kent Island Day, 2019 Sea Glass Festival at Chesapeake College, Rotary Club presentations, the Kent Island Federation of the Arts, or the Chester Safeway.
PFQAC also participated in the Community Engagement Mentorship Program working with ShoreRivers in defining project goals and capacity, organizing project budgets, and working through the Trust’s online grant portal system.
And they aren’t stopping there! This small but mighty group have outlined 10 initiatives for 2020 which include tackling heavy issues like surveying and researching boat shrink-wrap recycling and marina practices; expanding partnership opportunities with environmental clubs and area schools; working with the Maryland Department of the Environment to encourage businesses to join the Green Registry; and encouraging restaurants to adopt straw-upon-request platforms and install biodegradable product practices.
We are pleased to share their promotional video, created by PFQAC creative videographer Julie Shaeffer, here.
Learn more and to get involved with Plastic Free QAC here.