I was born in Los Angeles, California but moved to North Carolina when I was 8 years old. Ever since I can remember, I have always enjoyed being outside. I can remember how much I enjoyed North Carolina because it was so green and full of nature. My parents were born in El Salvador and they would always tell me how beautiful it was because of its forest and mountains. However, they always told me that pollution had destroyed most of the places they knew as kids. As I got older, I began to notice how plastic was starting to ruin what I loved. The rivers I fished in, the forest I would play in as a kid, and the fields that surrounded my childhood home were filling up with plastic bags and bottles. I began to research how plastic is made and how it is recycled. I learned that 90% of the plastic that big recycling companies receive gets sent to the landfill and eventually makes it into our waterways. I began melting plastic in my one-bedroom apartment into different shapes. Lots of trial and error later, and with the help of my friends and community, Restoring Another Waterway (R.A.W.) was born.
I grew up on Moss Lake in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Most of my childhood was spent in the water, swimming and doing other outdoor activities. I was big in Boy Scouts growing up in the mountains of NC, going on many backpacking adventures. Our motto on trips was always to leave an area cleaner than we found it. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the same mentality and many of the mountains, rivers, and lakes I grew up with are now experiencing plastic pollution problems. Once I moved to Greenville to attend ECU, I saw how the plastic problem was making its way down to our coast and waterways, and would eventually make it to our oceans. I realized that we had to do something locally to help stop a global problem.
I was born in Norwich, England and moved to North Carolina in 2001. I was heavily involved In Boy Scouts and that’s when I first noticed the plastic problem. We would be on hikes in the middle of nowhere and notice trash everywhere we looked. When I got to college, my friends and I became very enthusiastic anglers, and that’s when I really saw the full scale of the plastic problem. There would be piles of plastic collecting in all the twists and turns of the waterways. The final straw was when I pulled a fish out of the water that had a candy wrapper caught through its gills. That was the moment I knew I had to do something to clean this planet up.
I grew up in a town on Long Island about 30 minutes outside of the city. I have always enjoyed outdoor activities like going out on the canoe with my dad, hiking, and riding bike trails with friends. I moved to NC when I was 13 years old and it didn’t take long before I fell in love with our state’s natural beauty. As I got older, I began to realize what an issue littering and plastic pollution has become in the world. Some of the same spots that I would like to visit as a kid had quickly lost their charm from people simply not cleaning up after themselves and leaving their garbage in places that it did not belong. I would see YouTube videos and Instagram posts on things like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and how plastic pollution is affecting wildlife all around the world. It was then that I realized something had to be done and that I wanted to be part of the movement to help clean this mess up.
I grew up in the small town of Newton Grove in North Carolina. During my time there, I didn’t really understand how much of a problem plastic pollution really was, simply because there was a lot of farmland in Newton Grove and waste wasn’t concentrated in one area. It wasn’t until I started bartending in Greenville that I noticed how many straws my customers were using every shift I worked. I began to notice the concentration of trash all throughout Greenville and I felt as if something wasn’t right, so I decided to do something about it.
Originally from North Attleboro, Massachusetts, my passion for recycling was instilled in me at a very young age by my grandparents. Growing up, anything that was able to be recycled was put in the green bins or repurposed for other practical uses around the house. As I got older, my love for the environment grew, having had the opportunity to explore new sights around the world and travel to new places, including Greenville, North Carolina. My education led me to East Carolina University where I obtained a Bachelors in Public Relations with a minor in leadership studies and went on to complete my Masters in Communication with a health context. As my education helped me excel in my career, it also brought to my attention the defining pollution problem we have in our country and how it affects the health and everyday livelihood of Americans. This has motivated me to be a part of something much larger than you and I – R.A.W. Plastic and our efforts in reducing plastic waste in our local community.