Constant Pressure, Endlessly Applied

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: 

  1. Connect with Rise Above Plastics by attending a Surfrider Foundation Chapter meeting or following 'RAP' on Facebook / Twitter
  2. Get involved with your local chapter and/or spread the word to friends and family about the problems with plastics. 
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag/box that includes a thermos.
  4. 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.
  5. Go digital!  No need for plastic cds, dvds and jewel cases when you can buy your music and videos online.
  6. Seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on.
  7. 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.
  8. Volunteer at a beach cleanup.  Surfrider Foundation Chapters often hold cleanups monthly or more frequently.
  9. Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills.
  10. Spread the word.  Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to Rise Above Plastics!
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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.

RAP Activist Toolkit E-mag version to View or RAP Activist Toolkit PDF version to Print

RAP Facts

  • The amount of plastic produced from 2000 - 2010 exceeds the amount produced during the entire last century.[1]
  • Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.[2]
  • 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.[3]
  • Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.[4]
  • Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.[5]
  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • 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.[9]

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:

Learn more about Rise Above Plastics on the Coastal Blog, and Beachapedia.

Connect with RAP at facebook.com/riseaboveplastic , twitter.com/riseaboveplstcs and our Plastics Fail page.

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.

Visit the Surfrider Foundation Store for Rise Above Plastics reusable bags, reusable bottles and more!

Links to Partners

5 Gyres

Algalita Marine Research Foundation

BagIt

Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Clean Seas Coalition

Earth Resource Foundation

Heal the Bay

Kokua Hawaii Foundation

Save The Bay - The Bay vs. The Bag

California Assembly Passes Statewide Bag Ban

August 29 2014

California Assembly Passes Statewide Bag Ban

Legal Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans

California’s oceans, waves and beaches are about to become a little cleaner thanks to the efforts of the state legislature this week! SB 270, a bill to ban single-use plastic shopping bags and put a fee on paper bags, has been approved by the California Assembly.

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DC Passes EPS Foam Ban

July 15 2014

DC Passes EPS Foam Ban

Rise Above Plastics Expanded Polystyrene Foam

The DC City Council just passed the Sustainable DC Omnibus Act of 2013, including a ban on EPS foam. The DC Chapter & others supported the bill but they had to fight last minute industry efforts to weaken it. They used a unique website and Twitter. http://banthefoam.org/

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Face Petitions, Bag Legislation and Twitter

July 08 2014

Face Petitions, Bag Legislation and Twitter

Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans

The NYC Chapter has been using Face Petitions to advance a bill for a 10 cent fee on disposable bags. Pictures of faces, a message on a sign about the campaign, and a few key hashtags and handles is all it takes.

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The Proliferation of the Plastic Bag…BAN

June 30 2014

The Proliferation of the Plastic Bag…BAN

Legal Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans

Worldwide, nearly two million single-use plastic bags are used each minute. Plastic bags have been reported as the second-most common type of ocean litter, after cigarette butts. While these numbers are staggering, there seems to be more than a glimmer of hope as the number of single-use plastic bag bans is also on an uptick!

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Message in a Plastic Bottle

June 09 2014

Message in a Plastic Bottle

Rise Above Plastics

This spring, Ken Campbell, hailing from the South Sound Surfrider Chapter, undertook a 150-mile journey around the Puget Sound to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the ocean. His entire journey was made aboard a kayak he crafted by hand from discarded single-use plastic bottles.

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Aveda Cleans Up People & Beaches, Raising Money For Surfrider

April 08 2014

Aveda Cleans Up People & Beaches, Raising Money For Surfrider

Know Your H20 Ocean Friendly Gardens Rise Above Plastics

Aveda salons and Experience Centers throughout So Cal are, again, raising money for Surfrider's Clean Water Program. They've raised $750,000 over the past 7 years!

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2014 Campaign Priorities

March 11 2014

2014 Campaign Priorities

Ocean Ecosystems Rise Above Plastics Water Quality

Surfrider has three major areas of focus in 2014: Clean Water, Ocean Protection, and Rise Above Plastics. Read more to see our specific plans.

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Using Diverted Waste to Prevent New Waste in Grand Haven, MI

March 04 2014

Using Diverted Waste to Prevent New Waste in Grand Haven, MI

Rise Above Plastics

The Lake Michigan Chapter has taken an opportunistic approach to reducing single-use plastic bag use in the city of Grand Haven, MI. Read the success story!

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California Senators Promote Bag Ban Bill for 2014

January 31 2014

California Senators Promote Bag Ban Bill for 2014

Legal Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans

California State Senators Alex Padilla, Kevin DeLeon and Ricardo Lara recently announced support for legislation to ban single-use plastic bags and place a fee on single-use paper bags in California. These three Senators have partnered with the environmental community, the California Grocers Association and the United Food and Commercial Workers to come up with a workable statewide solution to the problem of single-use plastic bag pollution.

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Marine Plastic Pollution Legal & Policy Solution Briefings for U.S. Senate Ocean Caucus

December 12 2013

Marine Plastic Pollution Legal & Policy Solution Briefings for U.S. Senate Ocean Caucus

Legal Rise Above Plastics

This week, Surfrider Foundation, with the help of UCLA Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic, had the outstanding opportunity to present legal and policy solutions available for addressing marine plastic pollution at the federal level. This presentation took place in our nation's capitol, Washington DC, with the help of the U.S. Senate Ocean Caucus. The presentation was part of a larger workshop lead by NRDC and U.N. Environment Program to discuss solutions to marine plastic pollution, including Extended Producer Responsibility ("EPR") and life-cycle management of plastic products.

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2013 Victories Recap

November 26 2013

2013 Victories Recap

Beach Access Coastal Preservation Ocean Ecosystems Rise Above Plastics Surf Protection Water Quality

As we close in on the end of another great year of coastal protection it seems appropriate to look back at the hard work that’s been done by Surfrider Foundation volunteers and staff. Our activists have been busy this year, racking up 33 campaign victories so far

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Surfrider Foundation Legal Department Highlights for 2013

November 25 2013

Surfrider Foundation Legal Department Highlights for 2013

Beach Access Legal Rise Above Plastics Water Quality

The legal work at Surfrider Foundation moves at a fast pace; however, we took a few minutes to look back on the year 2013 and acknowledge some of Surfrider Foundation’s accomplishments and strategic movement in legal campaigns. Since the organization-wide programmatic priorities for the past year were (1) Rise Above Plastics, (2) Water Quality, and (3) Beach Access, the following is a breakdown of top achievements in those areas.

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Dolphin vs. Plastic Bag

November 19 2013

Dolphin vs. Plastic Bag

Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans

While the debate rages on about simple steps to reduce plastic pollution such as a reusable bag ordinance or plastic bag ban, wildlife feels the impacts. On a macro level, plastic litter is photodegrading into microplastics that are turning the ocean into a plastic soup. On a more micro level, plastic litter is impacting wildlife through ingestion and entanglement. Here's an example of entanglement as this baby dolphin can't seem to escape from a plastic bag until rescued. Cheers to responsible fishers and activists working to reduce plastic pollution, like those with your local Surfrider Chapter.

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Plastic - It’s What’s For Dinner

November 13 2013

Plastic - It’s What’s For Dinner

Rise Above Plastics

If you are a lanternfish in of the five subtropical gyres, chances are you are chomping down on bits of plastic as part of your diet. While lanternfish are small and there are very few commercial fisheries, they are a major food source for many marine animals. While plastic ingestion is a big enough problem on it's own, add the fact that plastics can adsorb toxins that could bioaccumulate, and we really need to take a look at the impacts of plastic pollution.

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Rise Above Plastics Month 2013

October 31 2013

Rise Above Plastics Month 2013

Rise Above Plastics

October of 2013 marked the third year of the Surfrider Foundation’s annual Rise Above Plastics Month, presented by Teva, during which Surfrider aimed to raise awareness of the dangers of plastic pollution and focus on finding solutions. Throughout the month, we shared plastic-related facts as well as tips on how to reduce your individual plastic footprint. As part of Rise Above Plastics Month, over 40 Surfrider Foundation chapters, members, and volunteers hosted “One Foot at a Time” cleanup events, during which volunteers removed plastic fragments and other trash from our beaches and coastal environments. The debris collected was then repurposed into fun, colorful, and eclectic trash art mosaics!

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California Plastic Bag Recycling Law Fails To Be Effective

October 30 2013

California Plastic Bag Recycling Law Fails To Be Effective

Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans

A recent exclusive report from the Associated Press highlighted the deficiencies with the California state law passed in 2006 that requires larger food retailers to recycle plastic bags. It's been clear to us that plastic bag recycling does not work and this is more proof. While the plastics industry and manufacturers often push for curbside recycling because of the convenience, the message to take certain items back does not work without a financial incentive.

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Net Patrol Follow Up

October 17 2013

Net Patrol Follow Up

Rise Above Plastics Tsunami Debris

The Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter has taken the unofficial lead in Rise Above Plastics Month efforts with their Net Send Off Party. The event was a culmination of hard work done primarily by volunteers that stockpiled 17,600 pounds of nets hauled from Kauai beaches!

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Santa Barbara Bans Plastic Bags!

October 15 2013

Santa Barbara Bans Plastic Bags!

Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans

Today was a good day for plastic bag reductions in Santa Barbara! This afternoon the Santa Barbara City Council gave final approval to a citywide plastic checkout bag ban at all food retailers in the city that is scheduled to take effect in six months at larger stores then twelve months from now at small stores. Later in the afternoon, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors moved a similar item forward for final votes to come next year.

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Final Marine Debris Strategy Released!

October 11 2013

Final Marine Debris Strategy Released!

Legal Rise Above Plastics

The West Coast Governors Agreement on Ocean Health released their Final Marine Debris Strategy this week, with the help of Surfrider Foundation, Heal the Bay, state and federal government, industry and academia. The goal of the strategy is to lay out a plan to effectively address ocean pollution with an ultimate visions of zero waste entering the marine environment from land, and zero impact from any debris entering the ocean.

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One Foot At A Time

October 10 2013

One Foot At A Time

Rise Above Plastics

Have you heard of the One Foot At A Time cleanup contest where you could win great prizes like Teva sandals and a Firewire surfboard?! It's pretty simple, collect plastic litter from the beach or your favorite place to play outside and create an art piece with the templates we provide. This month there are over 30 Surfrider beach cleanups across the country where you can also participate. Eight of them are this weekend so please join us or participate on your own to tackle plastic pollution One Foot At A Time!

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Ed Mazzarella, Director of Chapters, emazzarella@surfrider.org