Nancy Nordman, #DitchTheStrawPDX Coordinator, was awarded Surfrider’s Wavemaker Award for Environmental Leadership. This award is given to an outstanding individual or group of individuals, selected on the basis of a single recent major moment of environmental activism related to a specific chapter or campaign.

Nancy Nordman with Chad Nelson, CEO of Surfrider Foundation

In the fall of 2017, Nancy picked up the Portland Chapter’s idea of a Ditch the Straw Program and took it from concept to successful campaign. The model was to support businesses in getting rid of single use plastic straws while offering an alternative on a by request basis. By cultivating strong, outspoken business voices as advocates for the program, Nancy soon had businesses lining up to join. The program was so strong and Nancy did such a great job of cultivating relationships that one business hosted a series of fundraisers, ultimately raising close to $10,000 to support #DitchTheStrawPDX.

Shortly after launching, the program quickly developed into a campaign when the Mayor of Portland expressed his support for passing a straw ordinance. At the first City Council meeting to discuss the ordinance, the Council and Mayor expressed support in going beyond straws and reducing other plastic items. Throughout the process of writing Portland’s Plastic Reduction Strategy, the City of Portland looked to Nancy for advice and outreach support. In December 2018, less than 18 months after launching the program and only 6 months after launching the campaign, the Portland City Council unanimously approved a Plastic Reduction Policy addressing single-use plastic straws, stirrers, utensils, and condiment packaging.

While Nancy had a strong support team, it was her leadership that quickly took #DitchTheStrawPDX from an idea to a successful campaign. What’s even more impressive is that while leading #DitchTheStrawPDX, Nancy completed her M.S. in Leadership in Sustainability Education from Portland State University and worked as a waste reduction specialist. Her dedication and support to the cause is nothing short of impressive. Nancy is now transitioning #DitchTheStrawPDX to serve a supporting role in implementing Portland’s Plastic Reduction Policy.

The Portland Chapter also received recognition for their Community and Digital Outreach, under the leadership of Chanel Hason, Chair and Communication Coordinator. 

Chanel Hason, Chair and Communications Coordinator

The award was based on their 2018 social media, website, active campaigns, and campaign victories. The Portland Chapter has done a phenomenal job of using their social media channels to keep community members informed, share stoke, and recognize partners. In fact, their communication has been so effective that partners have sought them out to work together! The resulting partnerships have lead to greater fundraising potential and increased capacity. Make sure you follow them on facebook and instagram.