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Jack and Coke, no straw please

April 02 2013 | Beaches, Plastics,

 You may already be aware that it's Spring Break in many places in the United States.

 This equates to lots of beach towns in warmer climates getting flooded with out-of-state tourists.

 It also tends to suggest too much sun, too much drinking and a whole lot of trash left on our beaches.

As I entered Miami Beach recently this was the sign that welcomed me (and countless others). It was great to see this message being pushed out with ubiquity, hitting     everyone.

Honestly, I was surprised a bit when I saw it. Sure, all of us connected to Surfrider have been focused on keeping trash (especially plastic) off of our beaches for decades. I       was a bit surprised to see the city of Miami Beach putting up this sign with such focused messaging. It's clear that it's a problem there just as it is everywhere.

An hour later, it all made sense to me... straws.

Plastic straws... on the ground, everywhere.

After walking about 150 feet to the beach I looked at how much trash I had collected... 16 plastic straws.

I had scheduled to meet with our local Miami Beach Chapter Chair, Scott Stripling . He told me to meet him on a certain corner. As I walked up, the third picture is what I saw.

That's him on the left in the photo below, talking about plastic pollution in our oceans. He's talking to a Spring Breaker, complete with drink in hand, on the right. That's our bag monster in the middle.

The bag monster was both a prop for Scott's mini-talks on the perils of plastic in our oceans... and also acting as a photo op for Spring Breakers who didn't bother to stop and listen. They just wanted a photo of themselves with the bag monster... of course we hope they sober up and ask the question "why is this guy in my photo dressed in plastic trash?"  

The Miami Beach chapter has a tough challenge regarding plastic. Actually, the entire state of Florida does. The plastics industry helped push a law that blocks cities like Miami from banning plastic trash. More on that issue and how local chapters are working towards a solution here.

Our chapters in Florida are getting creative. The Miami Beach chapter is teaming up with the local bartending association and have created 3 simple steps meant to encourage consumers to reduce plastic usage and waste when ordering drinks at their table or at the bar. The tips are to "Skip the Straw", tell the bartender to "Keep the Napkin" and when ordering another drink, request to "Reuse my Drink Cup."

Great work by the Miami Beach chapter.

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