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 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.
- 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., 
- Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources. , , 
- Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.
- In 2010 about 690,000 tons of waste HDPE plastic "bags, sacks and wraps" were generated in the United States, but only 4.3% 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.
See even more RAP Facts here.
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
September 04 2015
The California Senate has passed AB 888, banning plastic microbeads. The bill now awaits the Governor's signature, at which time it will become the nation's strongest microbeads ban yet.
June 03 2015
Surfrider Foundation, Orange County Coastkeeper and Californians Against Waste sued the City of Huntington Beach for their bag ban repeal ordinance, which lacked proper environmental review and public engagement, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.
May 27 2015
Surfrider Foundation supports laws that address prevention and response to plastic pollution in our marine environment. Currently, there are several pieces of legislation, at both the state and national level, that address pollution by microbeads, tiny plastic particles that are used in face washes, cosmetics, toothpaste and other products, which make it through municipal water treatment facilities and find their way to pollute local water bodies.
May 22 2015
UNCW Surfrider College Club member and Youth Leadership Program summer intern Alexandra Brooks shares her experience attending 5th Annual Blue Vision Summit in Washington, DC May 11-14th. This is a 4 part series.
May 22 2015
Cal State Channel Island College Club Chair Kevin Piper shares his experience attending 5th Annual Blue Vision Summit in Washington, DC May 11-14th. This is a 4-part series.
May 22 2015
Cal Poly College Club Chair Alex Ly shares his experience attending 5th Annual Blue Vision Summit in Washington, DC May 11-14th. This is a 4 part series.
May 05 2015
The Vancouver Island Chapter is using their Blue Water Youth Task Force water testing program to promote environmental stewardship in youth and ensure safe and healthy access to local coastal habitats. This video documents how engaged the participating kids are in both the water quality testing and protecting the beach, coastal habitats and marine life.
March 27 2015
Microbeads are a big topic this legislative session, and microbeads pollution is an important issue Surfrider Foundation is working to stop. Here is a sampling of various state microbeads bans in the works around the country.
February 23 2015
In California, the new battleground for a statewide bag bill will take place on the November 2016 ballot. Even though the California State Legislature and the Governor approved a bill into law in the 2014 session, the plastics industry has launched a $3 million effort to strike down the state law through the ballot referendum process.
January 28 2015
One in four pieces of trash in the rivers near our nation's capital are foamed plastic. The DC Chapter just helped to ban foamed plastic in Montgomery County, MD.
December 11 2014
Surfrider is very concerned about the problem of plastics in the ocean. Plastics kill or injure large numbers of seabirds, fish and marine mammals through entanglement and ingestion. That's why we developed our Rise Above Plastics program to reduce the use of single-use plastics that end up in the ocean. A recent report was released by scientists at 5 Gyres that estimated 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing 268,940 tons are currently floating at sea. This unfortunately confirms what we already knew - that the amount of plastic debris (everything from large fishing nets to very small pieces of plastic bottles, cups, bags and other plastic materials) in the ocean is so great that we can't clean it up. We have to address the problem at the source by using less plastics (Reduce or Refuse), then Reuse any remaining plastic materials as many times as possible, and Recycle the rest.
November 07 2014
Surfrider members and staff visited our nation’s capital to lobby for a set of federal priorities related to the protection of oceans, waves, and beaches.
November 04 2014
Worldwide, nearly two million single-use plastic bags are used each minute. Plastic bags have consistently been reported in the top five most common forms of ocean litter. 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!
November 03 2014
Even though the ink has barely dried on SB 270, the state bill to ban single-use plastic bags in California and require a fee on paper bags, the bag industry has pledged to drag the law onto the state ballot in 2016.
October 21 2014
The reality of plastic pollution is that it is happening in every home, office, school and community. It’s plaguing our country. Plastic creates toxic pollution at just about every stage of its existence, from manufacture, to use, to disposal. Considering the facts, it’s no surprise that it’s the most prevalent type of marine litter worldwide.
September 05 2014
Every year the Surfrider Foundation coordinates with the Ocean Conservancy and the California Coastal Commission on International Coastal Cleanup Day to sweep clean beaches all over the world. Chapters all along our nation’s coast organize monthly regional cleanups where volunteers pick up trash on local beaches. Members of Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force collect water samples to ensure safe water quality at beaches. Surfrider endeavors to reduce the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics, and raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution through our Rise Above Plastics campaign. Surfrider support laws that address prevention and response to ocean trash aligned with our Rise Above Plastics program, including the California Bag Ban which recently passed in the state legislature. A new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tells us why efforts by Surfrider and other volunteers to reduce the amount trash on our beaches are so significant.