June 23 Webinar Poisoned Planet: Injustice of Disposable Culture & Hope for the Future

June 23, 2021 , 2:00 pm 3:00 pm PDT

Join us for an in-depth conversation on the injustice of disposable culture and how to move beyond plastic with Sasha Adkins, Lecturer at Loyola University Chicago and Author of From Disposable Culture to Disposable People: The Unintended Consequences of Plastics, Brittany Davis, Human-Environment Geographer and Independent Researcher, and Frankie Orona, Executive Director of Society of Native Nations.

Moderated by Plastic Pollution Coalition’s Advocacy Program Manager and Founder of The Last Plastic Straw, Jackie Nuñez, the conversation will center on plastics, eco-facism, and the consequences of disposable culture on our relationships to ourselves, to each other, and to the planet—as well as how to find hope for our future.


June 23, 2021
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm PDT
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Plastic Pollution Coalition
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By Julianne Waite

Several years ago, a gut-wrenching video of a sea turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nose went viral. For many viewers, that painful video was their wake up call to the global issue of plastic pollution.

In the years since, awareness about the plastic pollution crisis has grown exponentially and a number of cities, towns, states, and countries around the world have enacted laws to limit plastic straws and other single-use foodware.

Interestingly, plastic straws did not become Public Enemy No. 1 because they are the most common type of plastic found in the ocean. In fact, studies suggest that plastic straws make up less than 0.025% of ocean plastic.

According to PPC project The Last Plastic Straw, plastic straws emerged as the front runner for the anti-plastic pollution movement because of what they represent: the epitome of unnecessary single-use plastic pollution for most people.

Plastic straws are designed to only be used one time for a convenient few minutes and then discarded to pollute our planet for centuries to come. And while there are certainly some individuals who do need a plastic straw, the vast majority of the world’s population does not.

And this is how plastic straws became the poster child of the anti-plastic pollution movement. If people can understand why plastic straws are unnecessary environmental hazard, it is an easy next step to see that the same is true of plastic bags and plastic water bottles and plastic cutlery and so on.

This is why we consider plastic straws to be the gateway plastic–they are the single-use item that opens up people’s awareness to the larger problem of plastic.

Now, perhaps you are totally on board with eliminating single-use plastic straws but you still need or prefer to enjoy your beverages with a straw. Well, we’ve got you covered! We compiled this Skip The (Plastic) Straw Day list featuring Plastic Pollution Coalition members.

Also, use this free download of a card that you can leave on the table at your favorite eatery to encourage them to stop offering plastic straws at their business.

Metal Straws

Metal straws are an excellent alternative to plastic straws. Why are metal straws so great? They are:

  • Endlessly reusable

  • Sturdy, so they are great for portability

  • Non-toxic

The most common type of metal straws available are made of stainless steel, however other types of metal straws are available as well, such as copper straws. Here are some of the metal straws our Coalition members offer:

Bambaw creates ‘zero-waste products for a better future,’ including a stainless steel straw set. Their metal straw bundle comes with 4 straws, 2 cleaning brushes, 2 bamboo cases, and a cotton carrying pouch.

Simply Straws may be better known for their glass straws, but they also offer quality stainless steel straws that come with a lifetime guarantee. They can be purchased individually or in combination with their mason jar lids as part of their Sip Set.

Steeley’s Drinkware offers a suite of high quality reusable stainless steel drinkware items including straws. Steeley’s straws come in a variety of colors and can also be custom printed.

U-Konserve has been helping people make small daily changes in efforts to go zero-waste since 2008. They offer a variety of reusable plastic alternatives including stainless steel straws that also come in gold and copper colors.

Uncommon James Home is a luxury homegoods line designed by celeb Kristin Cavallari and that features elegant copper straws that come in a set of four with a cleaning brush.

Klean Kanteen might be best known for their adorable reusable water bottles, but they also offer stainless steel straws with silicone tips, which are perfect for anyone with sensitive teeth.

ZippNada is an online store that offers affordable zero-waste gear, including reusable stainless steel straws in some very sleek colors.

Glass Straws

Another great sustainable alternative to single-use plastic straws are glass straws. They boast their own unique benefits including:

  • They are non-toxic

  • They are typically heat resistant, so they can be used in hot or cold beverages

  • They are reusable

  • They can have really beautiful designs

Here are some of the glass straws that out Coalition members offer:

Bambu offers 7″ glass straws that are both dishwasher and microwave safe. They are also made with extra thick walls to prevent them from breaking.

DrinkingStraws.Glass offers a variety of fun and useful glass straws including this one with a rainbow accent that will brighten anyone’s day! What is really cool about these straws is you can select your own diameter, length, and style (straight or curved) when you order online.

Simply Straws has a wide selection of glass straws in different shapes and sizes and that come in a range of fun colors. You can even personalize them, which makes them a great gift.

Glass Dharma is a family-owned leader in the glass straw industry. They offer a wide range of glass straws that range from sleek and simple to playful and ornate.

Collapsable Straws

If you are looking for a straw that will impress your friends and start conversations that raise awareness about plastic pollution, look no further than these awesome collapsable straws. Collapsable straws are great because:

  • They are super portable

  • They are great for impressing your friends

Check out these made by our Coalition members.

Final Straw boasts the original plastic-free folding straw. All of their straws come with a cleaning brush and a carrying case that is small enough to fit on your keychain. Designed for ultimate convenience, you will never forget your reusable straw again.

SUX Straw offers stainless steel extendable straws that come with travel cases and the optional add-on of a brightly colored silicone tip for some extra flare.

Life Without Plastic is an online store with a large selection of items that help people eliminate plastic from their lives. One of the the popular items they offer is a telescopic stainless steel straw that comes with a cleaner with natural bristles and a cotton carrying case.

Bamboo Straws

Bamboo straws are an excellent alternative to single-use plastic straws and have a number of great benefits including:

  • They are made from natural materials

  • They are reusable

  • They are often handmade

Check out these bamboo straws offered by some of our Coalition members.

Bambaw creates ‘zero-waste products for a better future,’ including reusable bamboo straws handmade from Indonesian bamboo. Their bamboo straws come in 3 lengths and with a cleaning brush.

Lovers of the Sea is an online store that offers a variety of products to help ocean lovers go plastic-free. One of their offerings is a 9 piece bamboo straw set that comes with two cleaners and a linen travel pouch.

Bambu introduced the first commercially available bamboo straw in 2012. Their straws come in sets of six with a cleaning brush. *BONUS* these straws are USDA certified organic.

Bamboo Mamboo supplies bamboo straws and other eco-friendly products to businesses and individuals around the world. Their straws are available for purchase by themselves, in sets of three, six, or in bulk. They also offer the option to customize straws.

Sustainable Single-Use Straws

We are huge advocates for all things reusable (including straws, of course!). But in some instances the reusable options listed above don’t make much sense, for example in the case of restaurants. For such instances we have some amazing sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic straws. Check them out below.

Aardvark offers paper straws that are durable, FDA food grade compliant approved, and made in the USA. Did we mention they come in super fun colors, too?

Fresh Straws are fresh, natural, biodegradable straws that are made out of grass that grows naturally and abundantly in Vietnam.

Harvest Straws offers sustainable drinking straws made from heritage grain in Southern California. These ultra low-carbon straws are hand-cut and non-GMO!

Holy City Straw Company was established to create awareness into the environmental impact of single-use plastic straws while providing an eco-friendly alternative that is 100% made by Mother Earth.

LOLIWARE makes straws out of seaweed that are non-GMO, 100% food grade, and designed to disappear after use.

Stroodles offers straws made out of pasta. Yup, you heard right–pasta! Flavorless, biodegradable, edible, and zero-waste, these pasta straws are a fun and creative alternative to plastic straws.

Green Straws offers straws made from 100% Vietnamese fresh rice flour, tapioca, natural colors, and no chemical preservatives.

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Earlier this month, when Starbucks announced a global phase out of plastic straws, environmentalists and activists praised Starbucks’ efforts to cut back on single-use plastic. Plastic straws are not recycled, may harm wildlife, and consistently make the Top Ten list of items found on the beach, according to International Coastal Cleanup data.

Starbucks has started the process of switching from the traditional plastic cup and green straw combo to a strawless lid, quickly dubbed by the public as an “adult sippy cup.”

While no longer serving plastic straws in every drink is a good start, Plastic Pollution Coalition notable members and cartoonists are reacting to the idea of the single-use plastic “adult sippy cup” and the critical need to stop using so many plastic cups in the first place. 

“While this move is a step in the right direction,” says Jackie Nuñez, founder of The Last Plastic Straw (a project of Plastic Pollution Coalition), “We challenge Starbucks to take the next step by promoting branded reusable cups, straws, and cutlery. This would show social and environmental responsibility, increase profits, save money, and generate less waste.”

What do YOU think? Tell us in the comments section.

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Planet or Plastic? Takes Comprehensive Approach to Tackling Major Environmental Crisis, Encompassing Storytelling, Consumer Education & Engagement, Scientific Research, and Innovative Partnerships

National Geographic launches Planet or Plastic?, a multiyear initiative aimed at raising awareness of this challenge and reducing the amount of single-use plastic that enters in the world’s oceans. Doing so will not only benefit the thousands to potentially millions of marine animals that become entangled in, suffocated by, or ingest plastic each year, but will also contribute to the overall health of the planet’s marine ecosystems and all who rely upon them.

As a global brand with a rich history of scientific discovery and exploration, National Geographic is uniquely positioned to tackle this crisis in a way that only National Geographic can — through storytelling and science. The Planet or Plastic? initiative will leverage the power of National Geographic’s media portfolio around the world and the expertise of National Geographic’s explorers and scientists who are witnessing firsthand the devastating impacts of this crisis. This organization-wide effort will include a major research and scientific initiative; a consumer education and engagement campaign; updated internal corporate sustainability commitments; and innovative partnerships with like-minded corporations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all over the world.

Today’s launch is tied to the release of the June issue of National Geographic magazine, which takes an in-depth look at the role single-use plastics play in our society and the impact they are having on our environment. Starting with this issue, National Geographic announced that it will begin wrapping the U.S., U.K. and India subscriber editions of the magazine in paper instead of plastic, with the goal of wrapping all global editions in paper by the end of 2019. The June issue is available online at natgeo.com/planetorplastic on May 16 and on print newsstands on May 29.

Each year, 9 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean. Some estimates suggest this plastic could remain in marine environments for 450 years or longer, and the problem is only getting worse. Addressing a challenge of this magnitude requires an unprecedented approach. In concert with the release of the June magazine, the Planet or Plastic? initiative will also kick off with the following:

  • PLANET OR PLASTIC? PLEDGE: Starting today, National Geographic will ask audiences around the world to take the Planet or Plastic? pledge, a commitment to reduce their use of single-use plastic. By taking the pledge, individuals will become part of a global community working together to stem the tide of single-use plastic polluting the ocean and will continue to receive information and tips to help them in their efforts. The pledge marks the beginning of a comprehensive consumer awareness and engagement campaign that National Geographic will execute across its multiple platforms in the months and years to come. Elements of this campaign will range from inspiring and informative content, ongoing consumer engagement activities, events and more.
  • SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND DOCUMENTATION: The nonprofit National Geographic Society will embark on a journey to better document how plastic travels from source to sea and to fill critical knowledge gaps. Starting with an initial expedition in 2019 to study the type and flow of plastic in a river system, National Geographic will provide science-based, actionable information to help local and national governments, NGOs, businesses and the public more effectively invest in and implement innovative solutions. The Society is also sourcing solutions to the challenge of plastic waste through an existing Reducing Marine Plastic Pollution Request for Proposal (RFP).
  • THREE-DAY SOCIAL TAKEOVER: National Geographic will use the power and reach of its platforms to educate people about the impact of single-use plastic and to encourage them to take the pledge. For the next three days, National Geographic will “pollute” its Instagram feed, @natgeo, with photos of the plastics crisis as well as animated Instagram stories to highlight the true impact of humanity’s pollution of the natural world. Today, @natgeo will feature photos taken by photographer Randy Olson, who traveled around the world to document the plastics crisis and is featured in the June issue of the magazine. On Thursday, May 17, actress and singer Zooey Deschanel (“New Girl,” She & Him), co-founder of The Farm Project, which recently commissioned the series, Your Food’s Roots, will curate National Geographic’s Instagram account, posting photos of the plastic crisis. On Friday, May 18, National Geographic’s photographers will be posting their own photos of the crisis. Also on Friday, Kathryn Kellogg, a writer and public speaker who lives a “zero-waste” lifestyle and focuses on the dangers of plastic pollution, will host a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about small, actionable eco-friendly steps that people can take in their everyday lives. Kellogg, who is featured in the June issue of National Geographic, has fit all of the trash that she has generated at home in the last two years into a 16-ounce jar.
  • INTERNAL COMMITMENT: Finally, National Geographic will be taking steps to reduce its own reliance on single-use plastics. Starting with the June issue and moving forward, those who subscribe to the U.S., U.K. and India editions of National Geographic magazine will receive their issues wrapped in paper instead of plastic. This change will save more than 2.5 million single-use plastic bags every month. By the end of 2019, all global editions will be wrapped in paper instead of plastic. This is just one of many steps National Geographic is taking to reduce its own single-use plastic consumption. Over the next month, National Geographic will initiate a third-party audit of its single-use plastic use and will develop a timeline and action plan to further minimize single-use plastics in the workplace.

“For 130 years, National Geographic has documented the stories of our planet, providing audiences around the world with a window into the earth’s breathtaking beauty as well as to the threats it faces,” said Gary E. Knell, CEO of National Geographic Partners. “Each and every day, our explorers, researchers and photographers in the field witness firsthand the devastating impact of single-use plastic on our oceans, and the situation is becoming increasingly dire. Through the Planet or Plastic? initiative, we will share the stories of this growing crisis, work to address it through the latest science and research, and educate audiences around the world about how to eliminate single-use plastics and prevent them from making their way into our oceans.”

Added Jonathan Baillie, the National Geographic Society’s chief scientist and senior vice president, science and exploration: “By harnessing National Geographic’s scientific expertise, we intend to pinpoint activities on land, particularly near rivers, that contribute to the flow of plastics polluting our oceans — and then use what we learn to inspire change at home and around the world. A crisis of this enormity requires solutions at scale, and National Geographic is uniquely qualified to amass the best in research, technology, education and storytelling to effect meaningful change.”

See also: The Story Behind that Viral Seahorse Photo

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By Jason Paul

As a child in Southern California, I remember spending years of my life with toes sandy and trunks wet. There was always something new to explore, from a tide pool or shipwreck, to the “gnarly” break just around the bend.

I remember vividly the first time I found a piece of plastic floating in the ocean. I must have been 9 or 10 years old and I was swimming, as I often did, past the breakers, underwater, eyes open. I noticed something small and shiny that seemed oddly out of place. At first I assumed that it must be some exotic species that I hadn’t noticed before but upon closer inspection, I noticed a dial-code for international calling. I had stumbled upon a plastic-coated phone card that had inevitably floated downstream to my playground: the ocean.

Today, it’s hard not to notice all of the floating plastic that is plaguing our waterways. Plastic bags imitating jellyfish are as abundant as traveling sargassum. Broken beach toys and bits of Styrofoam can be found intertwined with washed up chunks of kelp. Personally, I’ve noticed a change in the environment over the past few decades, and as a young parent, I question what world we’re leaving behind for the next generation.

The effect that plastic is having on our world is difficult to fathom. It was recently estimated by the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation that by 2050 there very well may be more plastic in our oceans than fish (by weight). It’s hard to believe, but it becomes scarily realistic after looking at the statistics. In the greater Los Angeles area alone more than 10 tons of plastic pour into the ocean on a daily basis.

But aside from this catastrophe, what can we do? How can we be pragmatic about having a positive effect on our environment rather than stuffing it full of “recyclables”? Read on to discover 10 top dangers of plastic pollution and what you can do to fight back.

Danger #1: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

You may have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but do you really know what it is? In 2003 Captain Charles Moore took a shortcut through a Pacific gyre on his way back to California when he discovered something unexpected: a sea of plastic. It took he and his crew a week to cross the patch before they were able to glimpse clear water again free of debris; bottle caps, plastic bags, fragments of hardhats or long forgotten toys. Recent estimations put the Great Pacific Garbage Patch at three times the size of France. In a recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, it’s estimated that at the surface of the patch, plastic outnumbers organisms by 180:1, so you can forget about 2050.

Action tip: Pledge your support.

Support local beach and waterway cleanups near you, and support organizations that are working on source reduction, or stopping the flow of plastic into our waterways, oceans, and environment.

Danger #2: But wait, there’s more.

Unfortunately, the effects of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch go far beyond the view. Based on recent research from The Ocean Cleanup, 84 percent of the plastic found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch contain harmful chemical pollutants. This has an impact on the ocean in the form of increased acidification, but frankly we don’t know the effect these chemicals could have on the environment in the long-run. But that’s not the worst of it. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one of 5 gyres in the world where plastic has begun to accumulate at astonishing rates. The North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Indian Oceans all have their own patch that is slowly spreading across the ocean

Action tip: Get educated and get involved.

Stay informed. Don’t get lazy and don’t get discouraged. It’s easy to get bogged down in the negativity of today’s world, and watching the news doesn’t always help. The worst thing you can do is alienate yourself by removing yourself from the conversation. Instead, dive deeper, learn more, and educate others. The more you know, the more power you have to change the direction things are headed in.

Danger #3: Micro what?

Affectionately called MOOP by Burning Man aficionados worldwide, microplastics are simply the tiny bits of plastic that seem to find themselves everywhere and nowhere all at once. Your favorite kindergarten craft ingredient, glitter, is microplastics. Anything from the size of the period at the end of this sentence to the quarter in your pocket, microplastics are bad news. A popular haunt for the microplastic is the inside of a micro-invertebrate like krill. Serving as the main food source for nearly half of all whales, seals, penguins, squid, and fish, microplastics may work their way up the food chain towards humans.

Action tip: Take two.

A British non-profit has taken to social media to spread the word of helping our environment.  #2minutebeachcleanup, a project of 1% For The Planet, calls itself “a growing family of beach lovers rolling up their sleeves to help rid the world’s beaches of marine litter and plastic pollution, 2 minutes at a time.” The idea is simple, during your next seaside jaunt, before heading back to your car, take two minutes to pick up as much trash as you can find. Snap a photo and post it to your social media using #2minutebeachcleanup. The response has been overwhelming — moving quickly from a little known hashtag to a worldwide movement. Every little bit counts, so don’t forget to grab some MOOP on your way off the sand.

Danger #4: Another great extinction.

At one point, megafauna like giant sloths, dire wolves, mammoths, and even giant beavers roamed North America. Some scientists speculate that their extinction could have been caused by Paleoindians, the first North Americans, who hunted these species to extinction. How fitting that today, our oceans are experiencing a comparable event, caused by humans. Everything from plankton to whales have been found in the ocean having digested microplastics. But does this have an effect on our species? Scientists say large amounts of plastic in the ocean can have bio-accumulative effects on food webs.

Action tip: Cut it out.

The simplest thing you can do to change the amount of plastic going into the ocean is use less plastic. Start with single-use plastic such as bags, bottles, and straws. Buying whole, unpackaged foods can seriously reduce the amount of plastic waste that you produce. Many recycling centers simply don’t have the infrastructure to recycle plastics like bits of Saran Wrap or food packaging. Less than 8 percent of plastic is recycled in the U.S., so buying food with less packaging will make a difference.

Danger #5: Paradise Lost.

Bali is one of the most sought after travel destinations for surfers in the world, made famous for long peeling right-handers and square barrels breaking over shallow chunks of reef. Today, one of Bali’s top tourist destinations, Kuta, is making headlines for something entirely different.  Government officials in Indonesia recently declared a “garbage emergency” for the 100 tons of garbage that wash up, daily, on beaches from Kuta to Jimbaran and Seminyak. If we do
n’t change the fate of Indonesia could be the fate of surf sanctuaries worldwide.

Action tip: Book a trip.

You can help this problem by simply going to Bali. Tell your friends how epic the surf is, how great the parties are, and how much trash is floating in the line-up. The more folks know about these problems, the more likely we’re going to see change.

Danger #6: More people, more footprint on the earth.

The greater outdoor industry, aquatic sports included, amounted to an 887 billion dollar industry in 2017 and is showing signs of growth. Adventure is trending and with it comes responsibility.  Unfortunately, our participation in outdoor activities from sea to summit has an impact on the environment. In 2016 alone, the National Park Service tallied their highest visitation rates to date: 331 million visits. Visitors who aren’t well versed in ‘leave no trace’ environmental ethics may choose to wash diapers in local streams, leave plastic bottles behind, or carve their name into old growth forests.

Action tip: Stay active.

The good news is that with growing participation in outdoor recreation, we may see a rise in environmental attitudes and behaviors. Studies have shown that people who participate in outdoor recreation activities are more likely to have an “appreciative” outlook on the environment rather than a “consumptive” outlook. Meaning, they may be more likely to carry beliefs and thus take action to preserve our natural spaces rather than exploit them.

Danger #7: The Surfing Problem.

Surfing as an industry is notoriously not sustainable. While many of us consider ourselves environmental stewards, leaders, and general sustainability aficionados, the fact is that the gear we use typically doesn’t biodegrade. Wetsuits are made from petroleum, boards are made from fiberglass, and leashes made from plastic aren’t great for the environment. This isn’t helped by bulk superstores’ favorite poster child: Costco. Since Costco dove into the surf industry with everyone’s favorite board to hate, the Wavestorm, it seems that the $99 8’0” longboard has found its way into every line-up around the globe. While the fact that crowds may simply harsh your mellow, this isn’t the biggest issue with Wavestorms. Made popular by it’s cheap price and remarkable maneuverability, Wavestorms have one secret weapon: they’re eternally returnable.  With a Costco membership, you can return a Wavestorm for just about anything from years of sun damage, delamination, dings, or decapitation. Unfortunately, once returned there’s only one place these boards will end up: the landfill.

Action tip: Ride a beater.

Considering Americans alone produce nearly 250 million tons of trash each year, it’s high time we figured out something to do with our used gear. There’s no shame in riding a board until it’s dead, filled with water and dinged from nose to tail. In fact, some longboarders prefer a heavy board for earlier drop-ins. That being said, there are a number of companies you can choose from that are recognizing the sustainability loophole in our favorite pastimes and finding new ways to address it. Companies like Patagonia, Matuse, and Soöruz, are finding new ways to green-up our surf gear by making wetsuits from plant-based materials. In the SUP industry, several companies who are well-known for manufacturing some of the best inflatable paddle boards on the market are working to incorporate more environmentally-friendly materials into their board designs. Others like RERIP are finding new and innovative ways to recycle old boards to be donated to deserving groms around the globe. Bottom-line: demand transparency in your purchases and search out companies doing their part to protect the places where we play.

Danger #8: Those pesky tourists!

If you’ve ever been on the biting side of a localism display, you may have a slight bias against tourists – it’s safe to say that tourism doesn’t always bring the most environmentally conscious.  The industry itself can inspire environmental destruction in the form of man-made beaches where mangrove forests once stood and crushed turtle eggs under uneducated flip-flops. Just as uneducated visitors can damage pristine wilderness areas, self-centered tourists can ignore the effect they may have on our coastal areas.

Action tip: Take a trip with a purpose.

Organizations around the world like Waves for Development can help to ensure that your next trip leaves a positive impact on the environment and community. With destinations in Mexico, Peru, and Nicaragua, Waves works to ensure that surf travel benefits the people and communities where it happens. Don’t forget that while helping local communities, you’ll be scoring some of the best waves of your life from Lobitos in Peru to Popoyo in Nicaragua.

Danger #9: Puff, Puff, Pollution

The cigarette is the most common piece of litter found in North America. While smoking rates are down in today’s youth, cigarettes still amount to about 40-50 percent of all waste collected from roads and streets. As stated by your local storm drain, all waste eventually finds its way to the ocean and in turn leaves a lasting mark. Plastic components found in cigarette filters cannot biodegrade. Recent studies have shown that cigarette butts, when exposed to water, can leak harmful chemicals capable of killing 50 percent of fish in a controlled laboratory. One can imagine the effects that millions of cigarettes can have on the ocean and its wildlife.

Action tip: Quit.

Kicking the habit is easier said than done, but if you’re not motivated purely by the damaging effects smoking can have on your body, think critically about its effect on the environment. Be the change you want to see in the world — if you want to see a change in our environment, stop smoking.

Danger #10: All those people, all that sunscreen.

If it weren’t for sunscreen, I’m pretty sure I would have quit surfing a long time ago. While I’ve never truly been a fan of UV protection, I do recall a colossal burn in my early 20’s that left me boiled and blistered. These days I tend to slap a bit of zinc wherever I can. Recent studies have shown that oxybenzone, a popular chemical found in many sunscreen products, is having a devastating effect on coral reefs. According to findings from the National Park service, nearly 6,000 tons of sunscreen is absorbed by coral reefs each year. Choose a nontoxic sunscreen without oxybenzone before you head outside.

Action tip: Be a teacher

The best way to share your love, knowledge, and experience in the ocean is to share it with others. While you may have worked a few surf instructor jobs through your youth, take a moment to teach others why our oceans and outdoor spaces mean something to you. Teaching is an extension of learning, in that you will inevitably learn a
nd grow from interaction with your students. Teaching can help you understand new perspectives and find new ways to share the importance of protecting our oceans and environments. So take your friend out into the line-up, push a child into a wave, or find your way into the classroom.

While our world will certainly continue to face challenges, there are actions that we can take as ocean enthusiasts, leaders, and stewards to impact the direction we’re heading in. As surfers or general outdoors loving people, we have a responsibility to ensure that future generations can enjoy our world as we have. It’s up to us, today, to ensure that our children, and our children’s children live in a world where we can dive deep in clear blue water, swim through dense kelp forests and coral reefs, or explore dense forests free of plastic debris.

Be the change you want to see — if all you do today is pick up a few cigarette butts or refuse single-use plastic, you’re on the right track. It’s daunting to think that our world has changed so drastically over the course of the last hundred years, but we can ensure that the next hundred years has a positive impact on our environment and helps to save the precious natural playground we’ve all grown to love.

Jason Paul has had a long-standing love affair with the ocean. He is a stand up paddleboarding enthusiast and lead editor of InflatableBoarder.com and currently lives in beautiful Panama with his wife and two small children.

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New research published yesterday shows The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing exponentially and now covers 618,000 square miles of deep ocean, making it 3 times the size of France. This is four to 16 times larger than previous estimates. 

Leading the research was a team of scientists from The Ocean Cleanup, a PPC member organization, whose aim is to conduct a large-scale cleanup of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

“It is important to quantify it, to understand it and to monitor it to see how it has moved over time,” Laurent Lebreton, a French scientist and lead author of the study, told The San Francisco Chronicle. “Marine life is eating that, so all of this is going up the food chain … and ending up on our plates in some aspect.”

Founder of The Ocean Cleanup, Boyan Slat, has said the solution to the global plastic pollution problem cannot only be cleanup: “We’re pleased to see how many initiatives have been taken in the past few years to raise awareness of the ocean pollution problem. However, for our work in the deep ocean to succeed in the long run, it’s crucial that governments and other organizations speed up their efforts to mitigate the sources of the problem we aim to resolve.”

Dianna Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition said: “We commend The Ocean Cleanup for the work they are doing to quantify and measure plastic pollution in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Cleanup alone cannot solve the problem, but cleanup coupled with source reduction, stopping the flow of plastic into our environment, can and will lead us to a world free of plastic pollution.”

Photo: Some of plastic collected in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Photo by The Ocean Cleanup. 

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