In case you have not noticed, plastic is taking over the world. It is everywhere; packaging for our food, in our appliances, house fixtures, ornaments, toys, and the list goes on and on. In this age of everything instant, plastic is a necessity. The reality is we have all become dependent on it. It’s fast, convenient and sometimes trendy. While plastic has its advantages, the way we manufacture it like crazy is the root of the problem. It’s as if we can’t get enough of it!
Daniella Dimitrova Russo was going with the flow and making a lot of money in her niche in Silicon Valley. But motherhood changed her perspective; whereas she only thought of herself before, having two kids made her think more about the future. Considering the way things are going now, she’s pretty sure that what awaits her kids is not an immaculate, computerized utopia as depicted in sci-fi films, but a world literally half-buried in plastic.
It’s sad to think that we are paying convenience at such a dear cost: our children’s future. Our seas are certainly not what they used to be. Floating in the Pacific to this day is a patch of garbage bigger than the U.S. state of Texas. Plastic, of course, takes an unthinkable amount of time to begin decomposing. This means that the first-ever manufactured batch of plastic still exists today, perhaps in a different form. With this in mind, Daniella set out to step up and add to the growing force for change. The result is unbelievable! From launching her own “Think Beyond Plastic” initiative, she also co-founded another historic organization, the “Plastic Pollution Coalition.”
The journey to reaching the platform where she is now standing with her partners in environmental causes has never been easy. But she is not turning back. There is still so much to do, and she’s only getting started.
From Bulgaria to the United States
Daniella Dimitrova was born in Bulgaria, a communist country where nothing but marriage awaited her. She refused to be limited by her circumstances, and braved leaving her homeland at the age of 25. She bid her mother goodbye, unsure if she would ever see her again.
So she went, and has managed to get by. Daniella made it to “Xerox Parc,” where she saw and learned about innovation firsthand. She soon made a name in the field of business as a consultant and by setting up “Mindzone, Inc.,” her very own company. She also started “Planetstop,” a sort of network for busy people who are always on-the-go. She soon earned the trust of bigger companies, such as “Sun Microsystems.” Another highlight of her business career was helping “Infoseek,” one of the very first internet companies, take off.
Founding “Think Beyond Plastic”
It was nothing short of illustrious. Soon came her marriage and foray into parenthood, as she became a mother of two beautiful children. During one of their family excursions, Daniella brought the kids to a park where they looked forward to seeing animals and being one with nature. Imagine their shock when they saw colorful plastics littering the ocean; it was truly an eye-opener for Daniella.
The human race has become so depraved that we are ruining the environment – the only environment we have – in the name of convenience. Daniella’s experience working with National Geographic’s “Strange Days on Planet Earth” film greatly inspired her to do her share in saving the Earth.
She was touched by one particular scene in the movie of a mother albatross feeding her young with food from the Pacific Garbage Patch. She could relate to that well, being a mother herself. She thought warily of human parents unknowingly feeding their young with toxic food from time to time, unaware that it was contaminated.
Some studies, according to Daniella, prove that doctors have found plastic particles in newborn babies’ bloodstreams. This means that the plastic problem is not only environmental, but has now become a matter of life and death.
Daniella did not waste time sharing how plastic harms the environment; first with her kids, then with friends. She then started a group on Facebook and was overwhelmed by the support she received. That’s how her “Think Beyond Plastics” campaign came about.
Co-Founding “Plastic Pollution Coalition”
Two years after starting “Think Beyond Plastics,” Danielle joined Diana Cohen, Lisa Boyle and Manuel Maqueda in founding the “Plastic Pollution Coalition.” Their Facebook explains their mission as follows:
“The mission of the Plastic Pollution Coalition is to measurably reduce plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on people, animal and the environment.
PPC has two core initiatives that represent the foundation of its work:
(1) Educate and inform. Elevate the discourse about plastic pollution to the forefront of public attention; deliver access to information about all aspects of plastic pollution and their interconnections;
(2) Connect globally. Connect all involved parties—individuals, local communities, environmental, public health and environmental justice organizations, businesses and policy-makers—in their work to end plastic pollution” (SOURCE: Facebook)
Daniella knows that in order to curb our insane use of plastic, powerful and influential institutions need to be involved. How they do that is explained on their website:
“(1) Encourage, inspire and support individuals, organizations and businesses to end their dependence on disposable plastic, and to reduce their plastic footprint;
(2) Encourage, inspire and support plastic product manufacturers to own the end of life of their products; to invest in truly biodegradable products; and to self-regulate the output of non-biodegradable matter;
(3) Encourage, inspire and support the creation of economic incentives for businesses willing to invest in plastic alternatives; legislation that curbs irresponsible proliferation of disposable plastic;
(4) Encourage, inspire and support international leaders to form global alliances against plastic pollution” (SOURCE: Plastic Pollution Coalition)
The “Plastic Pollution Coalition” has now grown into a global organization with hundreds of partners and millions of supporters, and Daniella couldn’t be happier with how her life has turned out.
"My pursuit of a better world began years ago, on another continent, under an oppressive political regime. Over the years I have discovered that freedom is fragile and precious; that the world is what we make of it; and that every one of us can be the carrier of change.
I believe that all people have the right to healthy and sustainable future. Every one of us carries the responsibility for the future of our planet, and change is possible only if we work together!" (SOURCE: Daniella Russo)
Organizations and Programs Supported
- Plastic Pollution Coalition
- Think Beyond Plastic
- GMO-Free Monterey County
- National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earth
- Sun Microsystems
Awards and Achievements
- 1998: Founded “Mindzone”
- 2007: Launched “Think Beyond Plastic”
- 2009: Co-founded the “Plastic Pollution Coalition”
- 2009: “Think Beyond Plastic” won “Best 360 Campaign” at the Jackson Hole Film Festival
- 2009: Launched “GMO-Free Monterey County”
- 2012: “Think Beyond Plastic” evolved into a global initiative
- Launched “Planetstop”
DaniellaRusso.org (About Me)
DaniellaRusso.org (My Work)
Facebook (Plastic Pollution Coalition)
Plastic Pollution Coalition (Mission and Goals)
LOHAS (Daniella Dimitrova Russo)
Chirping Bird Society (Honorary Chirping Bird Daniella Dimitrova Russo)
Green Prophet (OP ED: Bioplastics Will not Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem)
7x7SF (Can Entrepreneurs Help Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem?)
Pleiades Network (Daniella Dimitrova Russo)
Vitamin W (Plastic Pollution Is the Nexus of Major Issues)