Peninsula's Last Straw - Voices of Regen #9: Josie Jones
By Jaari Heyes, Images by Josie Jones at Share the Word
“When the intention was set to make our towns plastic straw free, it became hard for people to resist joining the campaign. People wanted to do the right thing.”
Josephine (Josie) Jones is quite the opposite of someone who sticks to the sidelines. She is utterly passionate, kind, creative and knowledgeable. A powerhouse of a woman, and to be honest, I could have listened to her for days.
For the coastal town of Rye, Victoria, Josie has long been recognised as a leading environmental figure and influential voice of change. She was also the one who initiated the ‘Peninsula’s Last Straw’ campaign in 2019.
Peninsula’s Last Straw is a volunteer-based community initiative with the objective of making the Mornington Peninsula plastic straw free. The campaign started after Josie was invited to a waste reduction workshop by Tangaroa Blue, where they decided to target a major litter item - plastic straws. 10 million plastic straws are used daily by Australians. Doesn’t that seem excessive for a single use item that can take up to 200 years to break down?
The Campaign was initially directed at just a few towns. Yet after a PhD student named Catarina at the University of Tasmania secured funding through National Geographic, Waste Wise can now take the campaign across the whole Mornington Peninsula.
“The aim was to ask shops to surrender their plastic straws to us, and then educate them to take the paper straws offered to them by us. The idea is to place the paper straws behind the counter and only supply when on request,” says Josie.
“It wasn’t long before we realised that each town wanted to compete against one another to say they are plastic straw free!”
Besides being a longstanding anti-litter campaigner, Josie’s awe of the natural world is expressed through her love of freediving, nature photography and adventuring.
“Every spare opportunity I have, I freedive and photograph my favourite subject, sea horses,” says Josie.
“I have always been a nature lover. I’m a proud tree hugger, and I'll admit, I was literally found hugging trees just a couple weekends back.”
The measures Josie takes to protect the planet are downright impressive. Through her involvement in consulting with local government, corporations and community groups, as well as inspiring change in others, she was awarded the 2020 Victoria Local Hero for Australian Of The Year.
Josie is undeniably as humble as you get for someone with plenty of recognition, where one of her most crucial values in life is sharing kindness.
“There have been instances where I have approached someone about littering and they have thanked me for not shaming them. It’s about educating and being kind. These people end up promising me they won’t litter again. I say back to them ‘you’re amazing, thankyou!’.”
For anyone in the world wanting to do their part for the environment, there’s simply no point in waiting around. Get amongst the movement.
“When it comes to protecting our planet, you can act right now. You can change your purchasing power or even be a part of advocating for change in your community. Try composting or pledging to only use a reusable coffee cup!” says Josie.
“Everyone has an opportunity to do better ‘today’.”