The Science of Sustainability

Rise Above Plastics

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Surfers do more than surf. The Surfrider Foundation, originally formed to protect a surf beach and beach access, has developed into an international organization involved in multiple programs ranging from wildlife protection to ocean policy. As a surfer and a long term member of the foundation, I have been involved in countless beach clean-ups. We routinely walk the beaches pulling plastic bags, bottles and cigarette butts. Over the years, we have picked up tons of trash. Some of the beach clean-ups are organized, and sometimes I just pick up trash before or after surfing. This Saturday, September 17, Surfrider will join thousands of Californians for the California Coastal Cleanup Day.

As awareness increases, we are seeing fewer large pieces, but we still find countless cigarette butts, bottle caps and water bottles. We need to do more than just clean up, we need to stop it at the source. Our foundation has developed a plastics campaign called, "Rise Above Plastics." We must stop the plastics before it hits the beach. It is easily done. A metal water bottle, reusable shopping bag and an ash tray would significantly reduce plastics in the environment.

Here's the "Rise Above Plastics Pledge":

There is a section of the Pacific Ocean twice the size of the continental United States called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Within it, 100 million tons of plastic swirl in a vortex of currents. There is so much plastic in the water that it outnumbers zooplankton by six to one!

This plastic ends up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals. In fact, one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die globally each year due to ingestion of or entanglement in plastics.

Plastic is forever, with virtually every piece of petroleum-based plastic ever made still in existence. That's why it's so critical to our oceans and beaches that we dramatically reduce our use of plastics, especially single-use plastics, starting today.

You can make a difference for our world's oceans, waves and beaches — pledge to rise above plastics today.

I commit to do my part to rise above plastics and protect the world's oceans, waves and beaches from plastic pollution. I will do this by:

– Using reusable bottles for my water and other drinks. By using just one reusable bottle, I will keep 167 single-use plastic bottles from entering the environment.

– Using cloth bags for groceries and other purchases. For each reusable bag I use, I will save approximately 400 plastics from being used.

– Recycling the plastic bags and bottles I already have. For every thirteen plastic bags I don't use, I will save enough petroleum to drive a car one mile.

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David McGuire

About the Author ()

An avid writer, surfer and ocean voyager, David McGuire is the founder of the conservation non profit Sea Stewards and is an advocate for a healthy ocean. As Captain, Dive Master and Cinematographer, David has explored the world ocean on numerous sailing voyages collecting media with an emphasis on ocean awareness.Educated in Marine Biology, he holds a masters degree in Environmental Health and has worked in education and public health at the University of California at Berkeley for over a decade. David is the writer, producer and underwater cinematographer of the award winning documentary Sharks: Stewards of the Reef, and was writer and cinematographer on a film on California Marine Protected Areas, and Palmyra Atoll. David has written, filmed and produced a new documentary on the Sharks of San Francisco Bay and has worked as cameraman on feature films such as 180 South and A Beautiful Wave. His underwater filmwork on San Francisco elasmobranches and ecosystems continues and he frequently donates his work for conservation causes. As Field and Research Associate with the California Academy of Sciences, David is Project Manager of a shark research program on the San Francisco Bay and has initiated a new sharks awareness campaign: Shark Sanctuary San Francisco. Through expedition sailing and video production, Sea Stewards is exploring and explaining our ocean world, influencing policies and practices from sustainable fishing to marine protection. Through Sea Steward Studios, our Media Production work is used to influence sound policies and sustainable ocean practices. Current work includes a series on Sea Turtle Conservation in Mexico, a film with partners Team Fish Finders using local fishermen to promote catch and release and a documentary on local sustainable seafood and a Cordell Banks Expedition.