Norma Sellers has been a rockstar over the years by helping to sort plastics at cleanups, gathering cigarette butts for recycling, testifying at City Council for ordinances and highlighting plastic pollution through the chapter's social channels. She is showing that when locals stand up for their beach, the community takes notice and this momentum can lead to the grassroots campaigns and programs that make Surfrider's plastic pollution initiative a force to be reckoned with.
Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?
I started volunteering at beach cleanups for both Newport Beach and Huntington/ Seal Beach chapters eight years ago. I became a core volunteer for the Huntington/ Seal Beach Chapter five years ago when Don McLean invited me to a meeting and to help out with the "Hold On To Your Butt" Program. I was happy to help out with this program because I hate seeing cigarette butts on our beaches and streets.
Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?
Some local issues that are affecting our beaches here locally are proposed offshore drilling and the Poseidon Desalination project. Another challenge is getting the City Council to adopt restrictions on single-use plastics such as their recent vote against a polystyrene foam ban for takeout restaurants.
Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?
One project I have been working on through the "Hold on to Your Butt" program is shipping out all the cigarette butts we collect from both beach cleanups and canisters we’ve installed in Huntington Beach to TerraCycle. In the past five years, I’ve shipped out a total of 562,064 butts! Another creative project is making a surfboard with the straws that we’ve picked up at beach cleanups.
I enjoy helping out at beach cleanups. I collect all the cigarette butts from the volunteers. My husband, Alex, and I also help install cigarette butt canisters along Main Street both in Seal Beach and Huntington Beach. We collect all the butts once or twice a month and then we ship them out to TerraCycle, where this company takes out the plastic from the filters and recycles them into plastic pallets and ash trays.
Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?
Some of the highlights include when people approach us while we are installing the canisters to say "Thank you!" One time a lady even gave me a hug. Another highlight was when Alex and I got interviewed by The Orange County Register for Earth Day and did a great report on our program "Hold on to your Butts!".
Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?
The most important thing I tell others about Surfrider is that it is a fun, social group to volunteer with and besides beach cleanups, we have other great programs like Ocean Friendly Gardens, Ocean Friendly Restaurants, Rise Above Plastics, Clean Your Harbor and Hold On To Your Butts.
Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender (or why is being a Surfrider coastal defender important to you)?
I love Surfrider's mission, "We are a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network." I identify strongly with this because I love to protect our beaches and love to see surfers, families, young adults and especially children enjoying our beaches. It truly is my passion!