Most plastic pollution at sea starts out on land as litter on beaches, streets and sidewalks. Rain or overwatering flushes that litter through a storm drain system or directly to creeks, streams and rivers that lead to the ocean.
After plastics enter the marine environment they slowly photo-grade into smaller pieces that marine life can mistake for food, often with fatal results.
Ocean gyres concentrate plastic pollution in five main areas of the world’s ocean and various research groups are bringing back alarming data documenting the impact of plastic.
Ten Ways to Rise Above Plastics:
- Choose to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water. Cloth bags and metal or glass reusable bottles are available locally at great prices.
- Refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other ‘disposable’ plastics. Carry reusable utensils in your purse, backpack or car to use at bbq’s, potlucks or take-out restaurants.
- Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag/box that includes a thermos.
- Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants that let you use them. A great way to reduce lids, plastic cups and/or plastic-lined cups.
- Go digital! No need for plastic cds, dvds and jewel cases when you can buy your music and videos online.
- Seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on
- Recycle. If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics. Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates.
- Volunteer at a beach cleanup. Surfrider Foundation Chapters often hold cleanups monthly or more frequently.
- Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills!
- Finally… spread the word! Talk to your family and friends about why it’s important to Rise Above Plastics!
Throughout our years conducting beach cleanups we started to see the same disposable plastics littering our beaches, time and time again. That’s why, we’ve committed ourselves to organizing campaigns aimed at reducing our society’s consumption of single-use plastic products.
Plastic Production and Climate Change Q&A
You asked, we answered. Here's a quick Q&A about the links between plastic production and climate change.
UN Report on Microplastics
Microplastics are tiny plastic particles up to 5mm in diameter. In the last four decades, concentrations of these particles appear to have increased significantly in the surface waters of the ocean. Concern about the potential impact of microplastics in the marine environment has gathered momentum during the past few years. The number of scientific investigations has increased, along with public interest and pressure on decision- makers to respond.
Single-Use Plastics Report
The benefits of plastic are undeniable. The material is cheap, lightweight and easy to make. These qualities have led to a boom in the production of plastic over the past century. This trend will continue as global plastic production skyrockets over the next 10 to 15 years. We are already unable to cope with the amount of plastic waste we generate, unless we rethink the way we manufacture, use and manage plastics. Ultimately, tackling one of the biggest environmental scourges of our time will require governments to regulate, businesses to innovate and individuals to act.
This downloadable paper produced by the U.N. sets out the latest thinking on how we can achieve this. It looks at what governments, businesses and individuals have achieved at national and sub-national levels to curb the consumption of single-use plastics. It offers lessons that may be useful for policymakers who are considering regulating the production and use of single-use plastics.
Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet
Despite being one of the most pervasive materials on the planet, plastic and its impact on human health is poorly understood. Human exposure to it grows with increasing plastic production and use. Research into the human health impacts of plastic to date have focused narrowly on specific moments in the plastic lifecycle, from wellhead to refinery, from store shelves to human bodies, and from disposal to ongoing impacts as air pollutants and ocean plastic. Individually, each stage of the plastic lifecycle poses significant risks to human health. Together, the lifecycle impacts of plastic paint an unequivocally toxic picture: plastic threatens human health on a global scale.
Simple local actions can help make an impact to solve this global issue. Join us in protecting our coast to Rise Above Plastics by looking for reusable or refillable options when making purchases, bringing your own containers/straws/cups, or getting involved in one of our R.A.P. campaigns.