Plastic free July's Rebecca Prince-Ruiz calls for WA Local Hero nominations

Rebecca Prince-Ruiz was a WA Local Hero Award 2021 recipient.
Rebecca Prince-Ruiz was a WA Local Hero Award 2021 recipient.

"Life-changing" is one way WA Local Hero 2021 recipient Rebecca Prince-Ruiz describes her award experience.

As one of the four winners from WA last year, Ms Prince-Ruiz said the accolade was in a word "surprising".

"It was such an honour to receive it. One of my neighbours nominated me. The award is not just for me, but for the community," she said.

Ms Prince-Ruiz is the founder of Plastic Free July, a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution.

Ten years ago, Ms Prince-Ruiz became concerned by the amount of plastics going into landfill and encouraged her family to go plastic-free for the month of July. Her idea is now a global initiative, with an estimated 326 million people participating worldwide.

Ms Prince-Ruiz has worked with state governments and business leaders on reducing single use plastics and is on the board of the government's Container Deposit Scheme - a new recycling program for WA.

At a local level, Ms Prince-Ruiz engages with community groups by hosting presentations and workshops for schools, aged care facilities and other community groups.

Ms Prince-Ruiz has appeared on the ABC show War on Waste to increase awareness of the plastics issue and the solutions available.

She has published a book on the Plastic Free movement, and created a vast social media following - inspiring countless others to do more for the planet.

Ms Prince-Ruiz said one of the highlights of her win was being asked to got to lunch with the other WA winners in Canberra.

"The four of us sat with Kim Beazley [Governor of WA] and his wife and had an incredible conversation," Ms Prince-Ruiz said.

"Each of us have a different area we concentrate on; mine being the environment, Grace Forrest trying to end modern slavery, Professor Milroy with youth mental health and Dr Walley is a wonderful ambassador for reconciliation, and we all shared what we were proud of as Western Australians.

"It was a deep and rich conversation about what it means to be making a difference in our communities. Although we come at it from different angles, it's about taking care of the people and the places where we live.

"The 32 amazing people who went to Canberra just show it takes so much from so many different people and the Australian of the Year awards shows what it means to be a good community member."

Ms Prince-Ruiz said it was important for members of the community to acknowledge those around them who were making a difference.

"There are so many challenges facing our country right now; injustices, people and communities with so many issues.

"These awards are for recognising the people who are trying to make a difference and really shines a light on all of these diverse issues and brings the public's attention to them."

If you know somebody who deserves to be acknowledged for what they do in the community you can nominate them in one of four categories, which are: Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year (65 and over), Young Australian of the Year (16-30) and Local Hero.

Nominations for 2022 are open now until July 31.

This story Nominations open for WA Local Hero Awards first appeared on Mandurah Mail.