We are SD Zero.

The winning team of the 2021 Scripps-Rady Ocean Plastic Challenge.

Our Story

At the end of the 6-month Scripps-Rady Ocean Plastic Pollution Challenge, we were placed into groups for a 2-day hackathon based on our differing experiences and knowledge. We brainstormed potential solutions to the plastic pollution problem in San Diego, specifically to limit the amount of plastic that flows into Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Our team came up with a proposal to implement a zero-waste event policy paired with a business accelerator which was vetted by 11 distinguished professionals. Currently, we are building a coalition of supportive businesses and constituents of San Diego in order to pass our proposal.

Our Team

Kristina Phipps, Independent Legal and Policy Consultant

Julie Hopper, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southern California

Tanya Torres, Plastic Pollution Activist

Lauren Hackney, MBA Candidate at Rady School of Management, UC San Diego

Jake Reynolds, Energy and Sustainability Policy Team, UK

Our Elevator Pitch

California’s top litter items since the 80’s have consistently been made up of single-use plastic food and beverage items stemming from the takeout culture of fast food, restaurants, and events. Many initiatives to combat plastic pollution focus on educating consumers to make better purchasing choices and zero-waste decisions.

However, behavior change science has shown that awareness campaigns are highly ineffective at changing consumer behavior. Furthermore, with over 7,000 restaurants just in San Diego, targeting the restaurant industry to eliminate their single-use plastic usage is not feasible in one step as there are many involved stakeholders.

Therefore as SD Zero, we propose instituting a policy change for the city of San Diego that prohibits single use plastics at large events through the leverage of event permitting. Events provide discrete opportunities for piloting and evaluating the impact of interventions as well as normalizing zero-waste practices. We want to start small to show proof of concept, refine implementation methods and then expand to restaurants and other food service businesses. 

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