Laura Wells is helping save the world, one piece of plastic at a time.
Sydney-born and based, Wells, 32, is an international plus-size model and marine biologist. Yes, she really is both of those things. Lately, Laura has declared war on plastic -- which is our swamping our oceans, and which takes hundreds of years to break down.
In a moment, we'll get to Laura's super clever lunch trick, and the details of her work with ocean advocacy group Parley for the Oceans and Corona (yep, the beer people) -- who are looking to clean up 100 islands from marine plastic pollution by 2020.
But first, she's going to kick our collective butts. Ouch.
Ant: I'm a little bit scared because on your website, you describe yourself (among other things) as a "butt kicker". Are you really going to kick my butt?
Laura: Only if you're doing the wrong thing with plastic.
Ant: Gulp. I promise to be good. Actually I've already been bad today. I brought in some leftover Greek salad for lunch in one of those plastic takeaway food containers and I THREW THE CONTAINER OUT! Can you wait 20 seconds while I retrieve it from the bin?
Awkward pause while the interview goes absolutely nowhere...
Ant: OK I'm back. There's hummus from someone else's lunch on my fingers but I got the container.
Laura: What number's on it?
Laura: There's a number on all plastic. It's inside a little triangle symbol and it indicates what kind of plastic it is.
Ant: Oh, so there is. It's a number 5 which means... hang on, Googling... ah, which means it's some sort of polypropolene and... hang on, still reading... here we go, it means it shouldn't leach too many chemicals when heated. Phew.
Laura: Look at me educating you already.
Ant: The education started the minute we started talking. Tell me about your own education.
Laura: I studied a law degree and then marine biology. I've always had the ocean on my mind. I grew up in the Cronulla area [of Sydney] and I still live in that area. But regardless of where you live, everything you do affects the oceans.
Ant: Because everything ends up there.
Laura: Right. And I started noticing my plastic usage when I was living and working as a model in New York. When I moved back to Australia about five years ago, I wanted to do something about it.
Ant: So what exactly is this initiative you're involved with?
Laura: I've teamed up with Corona and Parley and my role is to show that your actions make a difference. Did you know that only 9 percent of plastic gets recycled?
Ant: That's depressing. I did not. So how can we cut down on plastics use?
Laura: Things like reusable coffee cups make a huge difference. Disposable coffee cups have plastic lids, and even the lining is plastic and can't be recycled.
Ant: Eek! So we should be taking our own mugs around with us or even taking a plate down to the food court or wherever we get lunch?
Laura: I do. I have a reusable water and reusable container with lid, and stainless steel straws. It's made of silicon and I take it everywhere. I just ask people to put food in my bowl.
Ant: You haven't had any awkward moments doing that?
Laura: No, in fact people see me doing it and it starts a great conversation. I try to live by the principle of AIR -- which stands for avoid, intercept, redesign. I avoid plastic when I can, I intercept it by not letting it go to the ocean, and I guess I've redesigned my life to reduce my consumption.
Ant: There's so much needless plastic out there, isn't there.
Laura: Yeah, like a plastic bag of bananas. Bananas already have a protective covering.
Ant: They do. What about plastic garbage bags? They seem pretty hard to live without.
Laura: There are plenty of different options. You can line the bin with newspaper or even use nothing at all. We compost all our food waste at home so we don't have anything that leaks or is gross.
Ant: Bring all this home for me. I've seen some of the stats. A million plastic bottles a minute bought around the world. Sixteen bags of rubbish for every metre of coastline each year. A day in the not-too-distant future when there will be a greater weight of plastic in the ocean than all the fish. But what about YOU? What is the saddest plastic thing that you, Laura Wells, have seen in the ocean?
Laura: I swim and I scuba and I've seen a turtle wrapped up in fishing line (which is plastic).
Ant: That's horrible. Let's end this on a positive note to remind people why we need to protect the oceans. What's the most beautiful thing you've seen?
Laura: A mother humpback whale teaching her her calf how to swim, right beside me.
Ant: OK I love the ocean again and I want to protect it. Hey before I let you go, I have an ignorant question. What exactly is a "plus-size model"?
Laura: It means I'm an average healthy-sized woman.
Ant: Stop the interview. That might be one of the greatest answers I've ever been given. Thanks for talking to HuffPost Australia, Laura.
Laura: A pleasure, thanks Ant.
Two action-filled days later... Ant orders cheap Korean food from the food court downstairs and BRINGS HIS OWN PLATE! He is stared at in the lift afterwards but survives. People, we can all do this!
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