On April 6, Eva Holman from Surfrider Foundation spoke with our middle school students. This year we have had several speakers focused on our Ocean Awareness eco-theme. Ms. Holman added to the conversation with a clear passion for preserving our Oceans.
Surfrider is a community of everyday people who passionately protect our playground – the ocean, waves, and beaches that provide us so much enjoyment. We ensure clean water, healthy ocean and coastlines and accessible beaches for all to enjoy by finding lasting solutions to the threats our ocean faces.
Ms. Holman made the following key points (among others):
-Landfill is where our garbage is dumped and indefinitely preserved in anaerobic environments. When I say anaerobic I mean we pile layer after layer of garbage creating this mummified tomb that pollutes the ground and the air.
-Recycling makes us feel good right? So happy that here in California we have such great recycling programs. There’s an unfortunate truth about recycling, we should really call it hope cycling or wish cycling, where when you throw something into a recycling bin you should make a wish and hope that it gets recycled.
-Of the 300 million tons of plastics that are produced annually in the United States only 10% are actually captured for recycling.
-To complicate things more, there are many different types of plastic that melt at different rates. Each time a plastic is processed for recycling it loses integrity and becomes a lesser quality product. A plastic bottle isn’t recycled into another plastic bottle, it’s down cycled into something like a plastic bag that is just eventual garbage.
-The great Pacific garbage patch is twice the size of Texas. There are five main subtropical oceanic convergent zones, which is to say where currents meet and create a whirlpool effect. These are called 5 gyres. The debris that is carried into these gyres is not floating at the top but rather suspended throughout the entire water column.
-Plastic is mistaken for food. Researchers have been documenting the ingestion of plastics by all manner of sea life, from zooplankton to whales and all the creatures in between
-“At least 8 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year-which is the equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean per minute.” -World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This means that the amount of plastic will outweigh the amount of fish in the ocean by 2050.
-In spite of the overwhelming research and evidence documenting the environmental harm caused by plastics, projections for plastic production are increasing because it’s cheaper to use virgin plastic than it is to clean and sort all the different kinds of used plastic.
-With the rain, a plastic heart sticker, a straw, a wrapper, or pieces of a busted spray bottle or the micro dust from a sharpie pen are all swept along and down the drain and out to the bay, and from the bay to the sea, and that is one way we are all personally connected to the plastic getting into our water systems.
-Plastic contamination happens to people living far far inland too, water travels from all watersheds until it reaches either lakes or the ocean, some just travels further than others, ours happens to be a fairly short journey given our proximity to the bay.
-Starbucks goes through 4 billion to-go cups annually but most of them end up in the landfill. Why? Even though these cups are mostly made of paper, these single-use items are almost never recycled or composted because they are lined with plastic. Starbucks cold cups and lids are polypropylene #5 which are also not recyclable in most waste management facilities.
-Starbucks cold cups are not recyclable in most facilities and their easily recognizable signature green plastic straws are not recyclable and are often found littered and at beach clean ups. Straws have been on the top ten list of items found at beach clean ups for more than 20 years.
-500 million plastic straws are disposed of daily in the United States.
-Do you need the curly ribbon, the ring pop or the plastic bottle?
-Can you bring your own bag and skip the straw?
-Can you choose products made to last over those designed to last a short time?
-Picking up the plastic you see on your street will keep it out of the storm drain.
-You can write government officials.
Surfrider hosts beach clean ups:
Ocean Beach 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month 10am-12pm, Stairwell 17
Baker Beach the last Sunday of each month 10am-12pm at the picnic table near beach entrance
For more information about Surfrider Foundation, please visit: https://www.surfrider.org/