This Spring Get Ocean Friendly

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

Surfrider’s Top 10 Environmental Priorities

March 30 2015

Surfrider’s Top 10 Environmental Priorities

Beach Access Coastal Preservation Ocean Ecosystems Ocean Friendly Gardens QUAD Rise Above Plastics Surf Protection

What’s on our agenda for 2015? Here are Surfrider’s top 10 environmental priorities for the coming year.

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State Legislation Survey - What’s Trending: Microbead Bans

March 27 2015

State Legislation Survey - What’s Trending: Microbead Bans

Legal Rise Above Plastics

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.

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Act Locally - While You Still Can!

March 25 2015

Act Locally - While You Still Can!

Legal Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans

There are many proposed laws going through state legislatures as we speak that would preempt local action for environmental protection, on issues such as reusable bag ordinances.

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Surfrider Hosts Florida Coasts and Oceans Day in Tallahassee

March 25 2015

Surfrider Hosts Florida Coasts and Oceans Day in Tallahassee

Coastal Preservation Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans Water Quality

We promote reduction of single-use plastics

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Big Plastic Challenges California Bag Ban Legislation

February 23 2015

Big Plastic Challenges California Bag Ban Legislation

Legal Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans

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.

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Montgomery County Maryland Bans Disposable Foam Food Containers

January 28 2015

Montgomery County Maryland Bans Disposable Foam Food Containers

Rise Above Plastics Expanded Polystyrene Foam Water Quality

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.

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The Oceans are Full of Plastic - What Now?

December 11 2014

The Oceans are Full of Plastic - What Now?

Ocean Ecosystems Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans Expanded Polystyrene Foam

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.

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Surfrider Visits Washington D.C. to Lobby for Federal Priorities

November 07 2014

Surfrider Visits Washington D.C. to Lobby for Federal Priorities

Ocean Ecosystems Ocean Friendly Gardens Rise Above Plastics Water Quality

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.

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The Proliferation of the Plastic Bag…BAN

November 04 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 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!

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California’s Bag Ban Victory in Jeopardy

November 03 2014

California’s Bag Ban Victory in Jeopardy

Legal Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans

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.

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How to Rise Above Plastics: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

October 21 2014

How to Rise Above Plastics: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Rise Above Plastics Bag Bans Expanded Polystyrene Foam Tsunami Debris

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.

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NOAA Study Finds Southern Californians Will (and Do!) Pay More to Visit Clean, Unpolluted Beaches

September 05 2014

NOAA Study Finds Southern Californians Will (and Do!) Pay More to Visit Clean, Unpolluted Beaches

Rise Above Plastics Water Quality

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.

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California Legislature Passes Statewide Bag Ban

August 29 2014

California Legislature 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 and Senate.

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