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Volunteer holds out plastic collected during beach cleanup.

Student Guide to Plastic Pollution Activism

This guide provides students both the knowledge and tools they need to make an immediate and lasting impact in the fight against plastic pollution. It is divided into four sections: Rise Above Plastics, Beach Cleanups, Ocean Friendly Restaurants, and Policy. Each section contains videos produced by Surfrider’s Student Club Leadership Council along with helpful resources to help students take action. Young people understand the urgency of today’s environmental threats like no generation before them. They deserve to have their voices heard, and at Surfrider, we are dedicated to lifting up the voices of our club network. This guide is a platform for students to learn, engage, and create lasting results. We believe young people will lead the way towards an equitable, healthy, and plastic-free planet for generations to come. Now let’s dive in!

We are all part of the solution and together we can stop plastic pollution.

Background on Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution is one of the most critical issues affecting our planet today. Since plastic never really goes away, every piece that gets into our environment will remain there for the rest of our lives! As plastic ages, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. These microplastics are extremely difficult to clean up and have made their way into our food, water, and air. What a mess! Thankfully, we know the solution – stop producing single-use plastic. This will allow a renewed focus on reusable solutions that are better for our health, our wallets, and our environment.

Rise Above Plastics

We can’t advocate for something we don’t understand. In Rise Above Plastics we’ll familiarize ourselves with the issue of plastic pollution, understand our personal impact, and gain the knowledge we need to support solutions. Will you do a home plastic audit, present to your school, or host a film screening? We can all help by raising awareness within our families and communities!

Beach Cleanups

Surfrider’s cleanups do more than clean the beach! They are a gateway to activism. By collecting data and reporting the findings, our cleanups influence and support policies with the goal of creating widespread change. We envision a world where cleanups are no longer needed. Help us get there by hosting cleanups and contributing your findings today!

Ocean Friendly Restaurants

Surfrider recognized Ocean Friendly Restaurants are leading the way to a sustainable dining experience. These restaurants are committed to only serving reusables for onsite dining, not using plastic bags or straws, only offering single-use utensils if you ask for them, and much more! Help apply these practices in your school or at restaurants in your community.


At Surfrider, our top priority is to reduce plastic pollution at the source. This means passing laws that ban unnecessary and wasteful single-use plastic while holding plastic producers accountable. Let your politicians know that you support reusable and sustainable practices by attending meetings, writing letters, or starting a campaign at your school.

Start or Join a Surfrider Foundation Student Club!

The Surfrider Student Club network is a platform for young people for opportunities to influence environmental action through service, leadership development, civic engagement and direct action organizing. The network also serves as the foundation for cultivating the next generation of leaders for our chapter network, developing lifelong coastal defenders, and helping to expand Surfrider’s mission to protect our ocean, waves and beaches beyond our chapter network. Learn how to get started here!

Meet other organizations working to support student efforts to protect our planet against plastic pollution.