Plastics Pollution – We All Need To Do Our Part

As a watersports operation, it is important to Downunder SUPs and Surf to be stewards of the marine environment. To this end we ally and support many organizations, including Harbor Watch and Save the Sound, and Surfrider, to help with monitoring water quality and beach clean ups.

The good news is that awareness is high, and most people do care, participating in clean-ups, recycling, and limiting use of plastic products. The One Piece Plan, is a great example – check them out on facebook – an organization that encourages you to pick up just ONE piece of trash a day. Take it a step further with The Take 3 Organization, pick up THREE pieces of trash – another awesome initiative.

People are getting creative about cleanups – YUP recently posted the following very clever project:

As some rumors swirl around the internet that there will be more plastic than fish by 2050, there are also some great stories about local recycling, like this one about Goby The Fish.

Instead of your regular cleanup, resulting in a run to the dump, this local beach made a giant see through fish out of barbed wire and mesh, and added a sign to it that said “Goby loves plastic, please feed him.” The key to the success was that kids had no pleasure in recycling plastics into those old crusty blue bins, but when it turned into a game where they had to “feed” Goby it just took off.

Goby to this day is constantly being fed, and most of the times he actually gets more than he needs for a day’s meal. He’s usually taken away by the city overnight to empty all his plastic that he’s eaten, and then brought back the next morning with an empty stomach so people can continue to feed him again and again.

At Crissy Beach in San Francisco, another creative creature is on display, a whale sculpture made out of recycled plastic sourced from the ocean.

On a larger scale, in October of 2018, The Ocean Cleanup organization launched System 001 – a vessel embarking on a journey to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of plastic and trash the size of Texas, located halfway between Hawaii and California. In fact there is another one outside of China! This image shows how astounding the patch is.

Chairman of the CT Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Jack Egan, and an avid paddle boarder, points out the devastating effect plastics have on our local beaches and in our waterways, and the impact on the environment:

Since the introduction of plastic on a mass scale in the early 1950’s, the world has created 8.3 billion metric tons (the equivalent weight of 55 million jumbo jets) of the stuff (Science Daily, July 2017) and only 9% of that total has been recycled. 12% has been incinerated in places like Hartford’s state owned facility, which is the second largest source of air pollution in Connecticut (Energy Justice Network) and the whopping 79% balance of plastic is in our landfills or natural environment.

We know that 80% of ocean plastic is land sourced (EcoWatch, June, 2016) so our concentrated efforts truly make an immediate impact on making Long Island Sound a cleaner, healthier and wealthier place for recreation, boating, fishing and aquaculture industries. Plastic, a petroleum based byproduct, comes in many forms; from clear bottles to colorful caps; from lost footwear and toys to candy wrappers and straws. Expanded Polystyrene foam cups are absolutely devastating as they break into literally millions of little floating balls that are impossible to cleanup.

Other waste that’s showing up more and more often include cigarette butts, hypodermic needles, tennis and paddle balls, plastic plant pots, discarded by landscapers, balloons, Fireball Whiskey seems to be the drink of choice for the party crew. Plastic bags are found everywhere, despite best efforts throughout the country to get rid of them. All hard plastic which has been outdoors and weathering for some time, will become brittle (photo-degrade) and “shatter” into untold thousands of pieces. (abridged version)

Egan’s article goes into much more detail, but the dire picture he paints, unfortunately, is just the tip of the plastic iceberg. (For more info about Surfrider’s Beach Clean Up Projects visit https://ct.surfrider.org/)

The good news is that we are aware of the problem and doing something about it.

When it comes right down to it, using common sense and courtesy is all we need to do to make a huge impact on the devastating effects of plastics to our planet. But, if you need a little help coming up with ideas, following are few to get you started:

  • Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics
  • Recycle Properly
  • Participate In (or Organize) a Beach or River Cleanup
  • Support Bans
  • Avoid Products Containing Microbeads
  • Spread the Word
  • Support Organizations Addressing Plastic Pollution

There are many organizations supporting the plastics effort world-wide. Following are just a few, but surf the internet and find ones that will inspire and motivate you to get rid of the plastics and give us back our healthy oceans!

https://oceana.org/

https://oceanconservancy.org/

https://www.oceanblueproject.org/

https://www.5gyres.org/

https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/

https://www.projectaware.org/

https://seashepherd.org/