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01 • 17 • 2022

Overwhelming Support for Plastic-Free National Parks

By Graham Hamilton

Last week, Surfrider staff and coalition partners met with officials from the Department of the Interior to amplify our calls to eliminate the sale or distribution of single-use plastics throughout the National Park Service (NPS). With a diverse mix of leaders from First Nations, environmental justice groups and environmental NGOs, we made a strong case for action, and department officials were both knowledgeable of the issue and sympathetic to our cause. “I love nature and the ocean,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Fish & Wildlife & Parks, Matthew Strickler. “Single-use plastics are a scourge on society and we need to do better.” 

 

Shortly after the meeting, our colleagues at Oceana released nationwide polling data revealing that 82% of Americans, of all political stripes, support ending the sale of single-use plastics in National Parks.


The evidence is overwhelming: 11 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the ocean every year; roughly 40% of plastic produced annually is made for single-use packaging; the petrochemical facilities that manufacture plastics disproportionately harm low-income communities and people of color, while the landfills and incinerators used to dispose of those plastics are consistently sited in frontline communities.

Surfrider staff and coalition partners meet virtually with officials at the Department of the Interior

 

Plastics pollute at every point of the supply chain, causing human and environmental damage that can be both obvious and invisible, everywhere from a fracked wellhead to your favorite trailhead.

 

With over 300 environmental organizations, including Surfrider, calling on Secretary Haaland to direct the NPS to eliminate the sale or distribution of single-use plastics in national parks, and over 80% of voting Americans agreeing, it’s time for action. Such actions are directly in line with the Presidential Actions Plan and with the Administration’s commitment to climate and environmental justice.

 

Momentum behind the Plastic-Free National Parks campaign is growing, and with a deeply divided Congress, it is more important than ever that the Biden Administration leverage the power of the federal government to enact policies that will protect public health and the environment from the scourge of plastic pollution. 

 

Our national parks were once home to Native People who for thousands of years were the original stewards of these lands. Indeed, they still are. This effort represents a small but important step for the NPS to honor the legacy of Indigenous stewardship and deepen its commitment to a more socially and environmentally just future.


You can amplify our call to action by signing this petition urging Secretary Haaland to direct the NPS to eliminate the sale or distribution of single-use plastics in national parks.