By CJ O’Brien, Ocean Friendly Programs Manager, The Surfrider Foundation
*Surfrider Foundation is one of our longstanding partners that we’ve been working with since 2016. As they’re experts in protecting and preserving the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, we tapped them for their wisdom in this guest post.
Single-use plastics are all around us and have become a part of our everyday lives. And they’ve created a major pollution problem, as these plastics are usually used for a few minutes and then thrown away. So much so, that items including single-use plastic straws and bottles consistently show up in our top 10 list of items collected during our beach cleanups.
Since it started over a decade ago in 2011, Plastic Free July™ has raised awareness about the plastic pollution crisis and it has encouraged millions of people to take action. At Surfrider, we try to make every month a plastic-free one, so we’ve come up with plenty of ways for you to get involved and help turn the tide on plastic pollution.
1. Attend a beach cleanup.
Our National Beach Cleanup program provides a fun and easy way to volunteer and engage with our mission to protect our ocean, waves and beaches. These cleanups encourage people to take action, generate public awareness, contribute to pollution research and help to influence legislation. So far this year, over 15,000 volunteers have removed 63,000 pounds of trash and recycling during 416 cleanups.
Log your cleanup data
2. Eat at an ocean-friendly restaurant.
The Ocean Friendly Restaurants program recognizes restaurants that are committed to cutting out wasteful single-use plastic by offering a simple, straightforward framework to help them make sustainable choices. Right now, we have 442 restaurants participating in 23 states and Puerto Rico. We estimate that on average, these restaurants serve over 79,000 plastic-free meals a day.
- Find an ocean-friendly restaurant near you
Encourage your local restaurant to join the program
3. Take action by emailing Congress.
The Reducing Waste in National Parks Act (H.R. 5533 and S.2960) would eliminate the sale and distribution of single-use plastics in our national parks. Doing away with the sale and distribution of these plastic products and packaging across our public lands will help protect some of America's most biodiverse and treasured natural environments. And it will be a step toward reducing the overwhelming harm done by plastic manufacturing, litter and disposal.
Take action HERE
4. Demand a strong Global Plastics Treaty to protect our oceans.
Working with our global affiliates, we’re calling on the U.S> government to support a strong Global Plastics Treaty that includes binding measures to reduce single-use plastic production as part of eliminating plastic pollution—including holding producers responsible for phasing out plastic production and ending single-use plastics. The treaty should also build a path to an equitable, reuse-based economy that protects the rights and interests of workers, Indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities.
Take action HERE
5. Call on Congress to 'Break Free From Plastic'
Last month, we returned to Washington, D.C. as part of the Break Free From Plastic coalition. While there, we called on Congressional leaders to support legislation designed to eliminate plastic pollution by reducing production, preventing plastic trash in our national parks and waterways and ensuring environmental justice is upheld during all phases of the plastic manufacturing process.
Learn more HERE