What is Plastic Pollution?

Plastic isn’t made to pollute the ocean, but there are up to 13 million tons of plastic entering marine waters each year. Most of it starts out on land as litter on our beaches, streets and sidewalks and is swept into storm drains, creeks, streams and rivers that lead to the ocean.


Expanded polystyrene foam products, including foodware, easily break into small pieces that litter the beach.


The 100 billion single-use bags used per year in the U.S. are easily replaceable with reusable bags.


Plastic straw litter can be very harmful to marine life, like blocking the airway of a turtle.


Hold On To Your Butt. Cigarette butts account for approximately one in every five items collected during beach cleanups.


From microbeads to plastic fragments to microfibers, this small but pervasive form of plastic is frequently found in the stomachs of fish.


Despite availability of recycling, still less than 1/3 of plastic bottles are recycled in the U.S.

Why is it Important?

Plastic pollution on our beaches overwhelmingly comes from products that we use for a few minutes, are discarded into the environment, and then last a lifetime. It’s up to us to change the current flow of plastic pollution through advocacy for better product alternatives and switching to a reusables in our every day life.

Beach Cleanups To Date

Pounds of Trash Removed


It's not too late

What We're Doing About it

Surfrider Foundation has been tackling plastic pollution head on for over a decade. Through the programs discussed below, we encourage individuals, industry, and governments to protect our ocean, waves and beaches by moving away from single-use plastics.

Ocean Friendly Restaurants

Ocean Friendly Restaurants

Plastic pollution is suffocating our ocean and the many animals that call it home. Researchers estimate there are now over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean with 8.75 million metric tons being added…

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Rise Above Plastics

Rise Above Plastics

Rise Above Plastics is designed to eliminate 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…

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Plastic Pollution Campaigns

Solo Beach Cleanup Guidelines Posted 05.21.2020

How You Can Help

The movement to combat plastic pollution is growing and you can join to make a difference. If you would like to help make a change globally to help rid our ocean of plastic pollution, act locally through your local Surfrider Chapter’s Rise Above Plastics work.

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