Rise Above Plastics
The ocean is turning into a plastic soup.
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 photodegrade into smaller pieces that marine life can mistake for food, sometimes 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 plastics impacts.
Simple local actions can help make an impact to solve this global issue. Join us in protecting the coast and Rise Above Plastics! Check out the resources on these 'RAP' program pages, then get involved with your local Surfrider Foundation Chapter to help protect the coasts and oceans.
Plastic—it's all around us.
It's in our homes, our offices, our vehicles, our yards, our playgrounds. We use it to package food, bottle products, bag produce, make dinnerware and utensils, make toys....
Plastics have undoubtedly helped us to manufacture, package and ship goods more easily, for less money, and in some cases more safely than ever before.
But, plastics pose a significant threat to our planet as well.
Part of the problem is plastic itself. The very qualities that make it an adaptable and durable product to use, also make plastic an environmental nightmare. You see, plastics do not biodegrade. Instead they photodegrade - breaking down under exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays, into smaller and smaller pieces.
Bottom line: with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated, virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form.
Rise Above Plastics Mission
To reduce the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics.
Rise Above Plastic Grassroots Goals
We encourage YOU to help address these globlal issues locally with plastic reductions at home, school, work and for your entire community:
- Connect with Rise Above Plastics by attending a Surfrider Foundation Chapter meeting or following 'RAP' on Facebook / Twitter.
- Get involved with your local chapter and/or spread the word to friends and family about the problems with plastics.
- Be a leader and have the biggest impact by directing a plastic reduction program at school/work or a plastic reduction ordinance with you local city council.
Check out the Rise Above Plastics Activist Toolkit under the 'Resources' tab for detailed tips and ideas.
Ten Ways To Rise Above Plastics
Here are ten easy things you can do to reduce your 'plastic footprint' and help keep plastics out of the marine environment:
- 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 wat 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.
- Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to Rise Above Plastics!
Rise Above Plastics Activist Toolkit
Help reduce plastic waste in your community with the Rise Above Plastics Activist Toolkit! This is a step by step guide to creating positive change in your community through reducing single-use plastics. The RAP Toolkit is focused on establishing a plastic bag ban or similar ordinance and it also offers insight on increasing awareness of plastic pollution issues through education and outreach.
- The amount of plastic produced from 2000 - 2010 exceeds the amount produced during the entire last century.
- Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.
- An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine litter.
- Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.
- Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.
- In 2009 about 3.8 million tons of waste plastic "bags, sacks and wraps" were generated in the United States, but only 9.4% of this total was recycled.
- Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead break down into small particles that persist in the ocean, absorb toxins, and enter our food chain through fish, sea birds and other marine life.
- Plastic bags are problematic in the litter stream because they float easily in the air and water, traveling long distances and never fully breaking down in water.
- Cleanup of plastic bags is costly. California spends $25 million annually to landfill discarded plastic bags, and public agencies spend more than $300 million annually in litter cleanup.
- It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the country.
RAP on the Web
Rise Above Plastics (RAP) likes to stay connected with our supporters as much as possible and we welcome your feedback and ideas. Here are some of the main places you can find more info and stay connected:
Check out Surfrider Foundation 'RAP' Campaigns across the county HERE.
Surfrider Foundation has new public forums where you can share your ideas and ask any questions you may have about RAP.
Links to Partners
May 13 2013
As the legislative season heats up in areas around the country, there is an increase in plastics related legislation. "The largest single subject of all these bills at the state level is plastic bags. Thirty-five plus bills would either ban plastic bags or put taxes on them or require their take-back. They tend to cover both plastic and paper bags," according to an industry expert. On top of that, dozens of cities and counties throughout the country are lining up for checkout bag ordinances to help reduce plastic pollution.
April 29 2013
Check out this great children's book that was recently published to help raise awareness about the impacts of plastic pollution and how kids can help prevent it. Jennifer Chambers does a nice job of telling a story that is compelling and interesting while the artwork from Jesse Auth illustrates the tale well.
April 29 2013
The enormity of the plastic pollution problem in our oceans is staggering. Surfrider Foundation has been hard at work advocating for local bag bans, polystyrene foam foodware bans and regulations of cigarette butts, amongst other efforts. But what else can we do to make sure we are targeting other forms of plastic pollution? What is going on at the statewide level to ensure that producers of plastic packaging are taking responsibility for their products?
April 25 2013
On Wednesday, Mayor Bloomberg hosted a press conference to announce that New York City is expanding its household recycling program to include all rigid plastics, not just #1 or #2 bottles and jugs. This will be a great opportunity to divert materials from the landfill and provide more recycled source material but it comes with one big caveat: NO PLASTIC BAGS OR EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE (EPS) FOAM FOODWARE.
April 15 2013
Plastics manufacturers tend to promote recycling as the holy grail for waste management. As more cities aim to divert more materials from landfills for good reason, more recycled material gets processed and needs to find a second life. Some materials can be made directly into the same products they came from while other materials are 'down cycled' into different products. I recently found an abundance of one of those down-cycled products at a beach cleanup.
April 10 2013
The Surfrider Foundation has been fighting cigarette but litter since the 1990's when the San Diego County Chapter mobilized activists with their 'Hold On To Your Butt' campaign to end cigarette butt litter. Since then there has been great progress in some areas but cigarette butts continue to be a top litter item. We're happy to see other groups join the fight and Legacy recently launched rethinkbutts.org as part of their efforts.
April 04 2013
Los Angeles is getting ready to finalize their plastic checkout bag ban and groups are ready to provide reusable bags 'Made in LA' for the masses. California Greenworks, in partnership with Green Vets LA and Homeboy Industries, proposes the “Million Reusable Bag Giveaway” pilot program, to create and distribute 25,000 reusable shopping bags (with an overall goal of 4 million) in lower-income Los Angeles neighborhoods as the City’s plastic bag ban goes into effect. Vote for their project now on good.is and share it with your friends to help make the project a reality.
April 01 2013
This Saturday April 6th, Ocean Plastic, an art show sponsored by the Surfrider Foundation Marin County Chapter, opens in Sausalito! As part of the opening day festivities there will be an artists reception and an impressive list of guest speakers including Beth Terry, Daniella Russo, Chris Princetich and David Helvarg. Plus, YOU can help create a 64 square foot mandala of ocean plastic! Check out the fliers below for all of the details.
March 28 2013
The California legislative session started off in full sprint this year, with Senators and Assembly members tripping over themselves to come up with bills that address coastal plastic pollution. At the end of the first quarter, we have several priority pieces of legislation that Surfrider Foundation supports in our efforts to Rise Above Plastics.
March 20 2013
My friend of three and half years passed away this morning. He’d been on life support for quite a while, but I made him hold on. There was no one like him so it was hard to let go. We’d been everywhere together on a daily basis. We’d worked to save the world together, one cup of Joe at a time. I’d tried to make friends with many other coffee cups before him but none were as sustainable, resilient, or low maintenance.
March 11 2013
Florida is a state that limits 'home rule' when it comes to plastic bags - municipalities are not allowed to enact a plastic bag ban or fee-based ordinance per state law. That did not slow down a group of Flagler College students who are working to eliminate plastic bag litter is St. Augustine.
March 07 2013
America's Founding Fathers obviously did not have plastic bags in mind when seeking freedom, but in desperate efforts, some plastic bag proponents are trying to associate plastic bags with freedom. "On Tuesday, Rep. Drew Springer (Muenster) filed HB 2416 "The Shopping Bag Freedom Act" to give retailers and consumers the freedom to give and receive plastic and paper bags across the state and stop the overreach of big government.", according to a press release.
March 01 2013
It's a beautiful day in Southern California and I'm itching to head to the beach. But, some work needs to be done before I sneak out a little early this afternoon. Going through some emails and files quickly provided some inspiration to keep me fired up: some great outreach from the Plastic Pollution Coalition and video of humans helping a dolphin tangled up in fishing gear. It's the kind of stuff that keeps me aiming to reduce plastic pollution every day. You can't take a day off and it's not hard. Lead by example this weekend and pick up a few pieces of litter from the beach, in the park, or around town. Every bit matters.
February 22 2013
On February 21, 2013, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District affirmed the lower court judgment in favor of Los Angeles County in defending their municipal bag ban ordinance from an attack brought by the plastics industry, including Hilex Poly Co., in Schmeer et al v. County of Los Angeles. Surfrider Foundation was proud to support the County's argument with a "friend of the court" brief in this appellate case.
February 21 2013
Surfrider Chapters across the country have been reducing waste and creating reusable bags at the same time!! Sure, you can dump old or unwanted clothes at your local thrift store, but there are few ways to truly recycle t-shirts. There are lots of examples online, here are a few of the best that use the least materials and time.
February 15 2013
Surfrider Foundation Europe has developed another great ad campaign with Young & Rubicam Paris, France. This great graphic art is the theme for the international Ocean Initiatives cleanup efforts - Let's Reduce Our Plastic Footprint, The Sea Is Full.
February 14 2013
There was quite a bit of buzz last week around a rejected football game ad for a home soda maker. After being out of the office I finally took time to search it out and was a bit disappointed. While I had secretly hoped it might be too risqué by calling out major soda manufacturers for their litter and plastic pollution, it fell short of that. Great ad campaign that reached the masses but let's take a closer look at the product.
February 11 2013
Over the past couple of weeks numerous stories and LTE's have focused on recent 'research' claiming a link between unwashed reusable bags and deaths in San Francisco. This flawed research builds on the misleading research started in 2010 between University of Arizona and Loma Linda University that was funded by the American Chemistry Council. Consumer Reports quickly dissected and dismissed the 2010 'research' while Stiv Wilson from 5 Gyres Institute nailed the rebuttal for this one.
January 30 2013
A little over a year ago we 'launched' a couple of new print PSA's created by our friends at Pollinate in Oregon. The plastic sushi piece was an instant hit on Facebook and was quickly shared over 20,000 times from various Surfrider Foundation related pages. Many people shared it again or downloaded it then shared it, making it tough to truly tell how many times it's been shared or seen. It popped up various places over the year then this past weekend we noticed that Julian Lennon shared it on his FB fan page, racking up another 3k shares in a few days! We love the simplicity of the message and how it gets you thinking about the impacts of plastics on the ocean and with our food - more incentive to 'Ban The Bag'!
January 24 2013
This video provides an overview of the Plastic Pollution Solutions educational kit that was developed by 5 Gyres Institute and the Surfrider Foundation. These kits were initially intended for Surfrider Chapters and Marcus from 5 Gyres made extras so that additional Chapters or other interested activists can get one.