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Activist Spotlight: Janis Jones With the San Diego Chapter

Q: What is your current role?

I am currently one of the Rise Above Plastics committee co-leads for the San Diego Chapter.

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

I got to know several Surfirider volunteers a few years ago while advocating for single-use plastic policy in North County San Diego. As we began working on local campaigns together, I saw the value in becoming an active Surfrider volunteer. There is no doubt that we are more effective when we join forces and collaborate for change.

Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?

Over the past decade or so, I have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of plastic debris that washes up on local beaches. It’s overwhelming at times, especially after a storm. San Diego County beaches were also impacted by the recent oil spill that occurred off the Huntington Beach coastline. It was devastating to witness the strand line covered in tar balls, but I was pleased to discover the Tar Reporting Project, and I stand in support of Surfrider Foundation’s campaign to stop offshore drilling. 

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

I have primarily been involved in advocating for local single-use plastic reduction policies. Working with Surfrider colleagues side-by-side with elected officials and city staff members to push for common-sense ordinances is gratifying. I also enjoy encouraging people of all ages to get involved by speaking at council meetings and/or sending written comments in support of plastic reduction measures. Although single-use plastic policy is my focus, when needed, I help lead beach cleanups in Oceanside and table at events hosted in North County. In addition, I support the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program by conducting compliance checks.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

I am proud of the work we have done to get single-use plastic policies passed in North County cities. We have had recent ordinance victories in Vista and San Marcos with Carlsbad to follow in December. In addition, Oceanside adopted a Marine Debris Reduction Resolution and was moving forward with a Skip the Stuff ordinance prior to the passing of similar state legislation. Although RAP celebrated several successes in 2021, we have more work to do and will continue to advocate for policy in San Diego County jurisdictions that have yet to take meaningful action. I am also looking forward to supporting the California Waste Reduction Regulations Initiative that will be on the state-wide ballot on November 8, 2022.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

As an older person who is not a surfer, I hope to convey that no matter who you are or what stage of life you might be in, if you care about the environment, there is a place for you as a Surfrider volunteer.

Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender (or why is being a Surfrider coastal defender important to you)?

My husband and I moved to San Diego County 33 years ago because we wanted to live near the ocean. I have had the privilege of enjoying the beautiful southern California coastline ever since. As a Surfrider coastal defender, it is important that I do my part to help preserve our ocean, waves, and beaches for future generations.

Q: Anything else?

As an educator, I have worked with colleagues on marine debris and climate change curriculum and have had the honor of engaging with passionate students who have spoken at city council meetings to raise awareness about environmental issues and in support of single-use plastic reduction measures. I am also an artist/maker who introduces young people to the plastic pollution problem through creative exploration and art-making. Discovering the intersections between education, art, and activism has been a highlight of my 35-year teaching career.