Mark Ingman - Plastic Free Salish Sea
Mark Ingman
Solid Waste Program Coordinator
San Juan County Public Works
Lopez Island

Mark Ingman

In 2009 I first encountered the unfortunate and unsustainable use of plastic in the form of plastic film mulch in Sichuan Province, China. Extremely poor farmers were without alternatives but to use a thin plastic film to grow corn, that in turn was unrecoverable from the soil. This polluted their entire landscape, their river, and it eventually even killed their livestock due to ingestion of plastic pieces. In many ways this is the terrestrial analog to what is happening in our oceans. In response I was part of a team of graduate students who designed a plant-based mulch product alternative to plastic films, as part of a multi-year EPA design grant (People, Prosperity, and the Planet, P3).

I am the Solid Waste Program Coordinator for the county and I want to help our counties residents continue to make progress with improving the quality of our land and sea. When I hear PFSS, I think of the indigenous peoples who first inhabited the lands and waters of the Salish Sea, and I think to their example of how we can better steward the natural beauty that surrounds us. I am actively involved with growing food at my home on Lopez Island. I find that many of our environmental problems intersect with our human health problems at the level of our industrial food system of producing, distributing, and consuming food. Growing more food at right under or feet, at home, means healthier people, less packaging and plastic use, and everyone seems to benefit.