Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bottled water: The New Vice

Great ideas popping up from Michigan – tax the lazy, and give to the undereducated! Good to see bottled water join its brethren, Gambling, Alcohol and the Adult Industry (the other vices), as a taxable vice that can help under-served (no pun) sectors of society. The Wolverine State says “tax bottled water and put that money toward education” – read about it here.

The interesting twist here is that they propose to put an end to the state's groundwater being extracted (and bottled) without what many see as proper compensation to the state's residents. So perhaps instead of "Tax the Lazy (bottled water users)" and give to the undereducated, we can think of it as a Robin Hood-esque drama: Tax water rustlers and give to the undereducated...and hopefully clip plastic bottle production? Revolutionary…

A similar and hard-hitting position is taken by two recent movies on the subject of groundwater ownership: Flow and Tapped - check them out and make the connection to the basics of the Rise Above Plastics campaign for yourself!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cross-border Plastics - 1440 Bottles/day, Two Lightbulbs

In San Diego, we are (still) battling an ancient and ongoing problem which is unique to our local geography and regional political boundaries: sewage and trash washes across the border from Mexico into the US in San Diego County when the rains eventually come to sunny California & Baja. The Mexican city across the border, Tijuana, is largely unable to stop the flow, for many reasons, the main one being that the riverbed’s uphill watershed sits mainly on the Mexican side, with the sea-level riverbed finishing it’s flow to the ocean on the US side. That’s the simple explanation – believe me that it’s waaaaay/mucho more involved than that, but for our Rise Above Plastics concerns that’s all we need to know for now. (Surfrider’s Dan Murphy and the Tijuana river Citizen’s Council and others have even formed a coalition, cleverly named “NO B.S.” [the B.S. part mainly means “Border Sewage] to try to fix the problem – wish us luck! Check out the NO B.S. blog. Lotsa good photos 'n stuff there.)

What’s this got to do with plastics? Well, the Tijuana River valley empties into the ocean, which means that the trash (lotsa plastic and tires)…empties…into…the…ocean. The photos in a recent Voice of San Diego story show the extent of the trash problem – repeated smaller storms lay down layers of trash and sand, and larger storms that come along wash that stratified trash out the estuary and into the sea.

To see for myself, I made the 20 minute ride down there on a rainy day last year (bad one – horses died in the flooding that day). I was a tad underwhelmed to see only about one-plastic-bottle-per-minute float by, along with the trees, etc being flushed out in the chocolate-colored water. ONLY ONE PER MINUTE?? But, do the math grasshoppah – that’s 60 minutes per hour times 24 hours to a day = 1440 bottles added to the oceanic trash heap in that day alone – yikes! My little brain then tried to imagine how many semi-Third World rivers dump into the ocean around the globe – in areas muuuch more rainy than So Cal – double yikes! (Light bulb above the head) We have a major problem here…!

It’s surprising that we were ever surprised that the Pacific’s “floating trash heap” even existed – (light-bulb above head, again - DING!) OF COURSE, where else would all that stuff go off to? We/I/old-conventional-“thinking” always just figured that it went “away” – out of sight, out of mind, y’know?

At least we now know where “away” is =====> our silent oceans.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beans for Bags in Rio!

Subtitle: Rio De Janiero Takes a Strong Stance Against Plastic Bags!

Great ideas from Brazil - a beans & rice CRV for plastic bags, read on:

From our Rio-via-San-Francisco Surfrider RAP rep, Melissa Legget:

Bags, Now Only of Reusable Material


The government bill mandating that plastic bags distributed by stores be substituted for reusable bags was approved on June 24, 2009 by the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro (Alerj). The bill, proposed in 2007, took almost two years to be voted on because of pressure by various economic groups. Finally, the bill has finally been signed by Governor Sergio Cabral, making the legislation into law.

In those two years, sixteen parliamentary amendments were incorporated into the original government bill. An original amendment stated that stores continuing to use plastic bags would have to buy back each bag for R$.03 (US$.015) or give a kilo of rice or beans for every 50 bags returned to the store, even if that particular store did not distribute the particular bags in the first place. In the latest version of the law, stores are no longer required to buy back bags but will have to give at least a R$.03 discount for every 5 items to clients who choose to use their own bags. In the final text, the food exchange program was maintained.

Stores will also have to put up signs informing customers that plastic material takes more than one hundred years to decompose. Fines for not complying with the new law could reach more than R$10,000 (US$5,000). Large companies will have one year and small companies will have three years to implement the new legislation. The president of Alerj, Jorge Picciani (PMDB), affirmed that he will meet with business entities and write a new bill incorporating proposed alterations to the bill approved yesterday.

The bill was proposed in 2007 by the then State Secretary of the Environment, Carlos Minc, today Brazil's Minister of the Environment. The government's justification for the bill is that plastic bags cause grave problems for the environment, principally to streams and rivers, where the accumulation of this material provokes floods in regions close to rivers. Pressure by commercial entities and the plastic industry delayed the voting process.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Worth a Replay - The Work Of Felipe Bascope (ala Saatchi & Saatchi)!

[click on any image for a hi-def look...]

This last one is actual beach clean-up trash chicken-wired onto a billboard - click it for a closer look - it's eye-popping! (Dont be surprised if you see only plastics.)

Felipe put these into play in his days at the generous & mod media/marketing firm Saatchi & Saatchi. See more of Felipe's work on his blog!

Monday, November 30, 2009

RAP @ OTIS - 07Dec09

...Parsons School of Design, that is...

Students from Otis college of Art and Design announced today that they will be hosting an event to raise awareness and educate the Otis community about the effects of single-use plastic consumption on the environment.

The event which is the result of a partnership between Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics Program and students from the Integrated Learning department at Otis. Students will showcase will involve art and design interventions, interactive installations, , and video and animation projects, which aim to promote and educateencourage visitors the community to reduce and refuse single-use plastic consumption in a fun and positive way.

The Green Ambassadors and Community Changemakers from the Green Ambassadors from Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale will be giving a special “Rise Above Plastics” very special RAP presentation and will also be modelling the “Plastic Fashion” they designed in their R’ahsion—Recycled Fashion—class. at the event and gGuests will be invited to participate in creative ways to pledge to take rise above plastics in creative ways, such as the plastic pledge. Students will be making reusable grocery bags at the event from used tank tops and more. . Refreshments will be served and there will be gift bags for those that arrive first!


Monday December 7, 2009 - 4pm - 6pm
5 pm – Fashion Show and Presentation by Green Ambassadors & Community Changemakers

Otis Student Lounge, Otis College of Art and Design
9045 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045, (800) 527-6847

Bring: old tank top – leave with a RAP designed shopping bag

Contact: Lara Hoad from Otis for more details:, (310) 773-6674

CALTRANS: Missing the Point?

But - a great green-washing effort nonetheless!! Gotta love the feel-good factor of placing more recycling bins at roadside rest stops...right? First, check the origin of the story, and collaboration: "SOURCE American Chemistry Council", as noted at the bottom of the web-page 'article'.

I think we can all agree that the problem lies (literally and figuratively) on the roadside stretches BETWEEN the rest stops. Much like our oceanic gyres, our roadsides are strewn with trash - most of it plastic bags and bottles. I recently spoke at a local city council meeting considering a bag ban and concerned that I lacked evidence for a convincing argument, I counted plastic bags along the 30 mile drive of the I-5 freeway...and was shocked to tally-up 68 bags - and that was just one side of the highway and did not include areas where I had to pay attention to traffic versus counting the "urban tumbleweeds".

Bottom line, the plastics manufacturers are again encouraging us to fix their problem of the instant waste by recycling their product. Why are items like extremely durable plastic bottles designed for one fleeting use? Answer: $$$$$$$, baaaaby!

I can still remember the days when you returned your glass drink bottles for redemption - and they'd be sterilized and refilled. But now the burden of dealing with the waste receptacle (plastic bottle) has been shifted/dumped into our laps.

Perhaps the ACC should sponsor some Adopt A Highway areas and put their $$$ where their green(back)-washing mouths are, yes? Much better to set a good example, be a good neighbor, turn a good deed, versus touting the tiresome and distracting rest stop cosmetic's the phone number: 1-866-ADOPT-A-HWY

North Atlantic Plastic Trash Expedition

I hope we weren't leading you to believe that the Pacific Ocean is the only ocean with plastic trash swirling around...!

Luckily, no part of the world is now safe from expeditions seeking out plasticized gyres. The Sea Education Association (SEA) is planning a(nother) trip to the Atlantic next summer to document the plastics plague potential there, in their sweet ride, the SSV Corwith Cramer, SEA's 134-foot brigantine-rigged sailing oceanographic research vessel.

The expedition is funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, and is in collaboration with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Woods Hole Sea Grant.

Read about it here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leavin' it all the cash register!

Okay Grassrootsers - time to take action with a growing movement to send a message to manufacturers & retailers: Nix the excess packaging!!!

What is it? It's a new-ish idea-as-a-nascent-movement and at this point, is loosely referred to as Leave All Of Your Packaging Behind. Our good friend, Anna Cummins of Algalita fame, broached the idea at a gathering of activists a couple of weeks ago and for now, I can only describe the intent, the action, the desired result and where to connect with others that are activating on it.

The Intent: Reduce the production of extraneous packaging plastics and packaging in general...thereby reducing garbage, thereby reducing garbage...that reaches our oceans.

The Action: This is easy...just de-package your purchases at the retailer checkstand and leave that trash behind for the store to deal with - why is it your problem?

The Desired Result: So much of what we buy comes with packaging that serves no purpose other than to fill landfills (and oceans) and we'd suspect that this action, if adopted widely, could push the message through the retailers "up" to the manufacturers, "Hello, you needn't wrap your products in so much trash do ya?". Now...granted, many manufacturers are already moving away from over-packaging practices, and logically, they'll be rewarded by not feeling the 'heat' of this action, yes? ...and a lot of packaging is designed simply as a security "aid" (more difficult to stash a packaged single banana in your pocket than it would be unpackaged), but that's the store's problem and not ours, for sure.

Where To Connect: This idea is just forming and I was unable to find a website (perhaps you will build one?), outside of the very new "Cause" of the same name on Facebook:

Find the FB Cause here.

If you are on FB, join the cause, if you're not a FB'r, spread the word (in the parlance of the day) "virally", to your friends, family, and others. The FB Cause sports a feature allowing you to tell your (de)packaging anecdotes to the group...

Two things to consider:

1) Stay outta trouble! Dont go causing a ruckus and getting yourself arrested trying to make a statement over at the local solar-powered Walmart, just keep cool and take what you paid for and leave behind what you didnt (pay for). Remember the old honey/vinegar attractiveness ratio - mom wasn't wrong on that one.

2) Some have expressed concern that "at least the stuff will get recycled at my house if I take it home." A valid concern! This movement may become more effective as an organized quarterly, or monthly (ala Critical Mass, if you're familiar) action. Stay tuned for more info on that angle, but for now, just try it out and see how it works! Also know that major retailers bale up the cardboard that they accumulate for recycling.

A recent entry on the Huffington Post raises the problematic issues of excess packaging - check it out here! It plants the seed that we should all be "voting with our dollars" by avoiding items wrapped in too much junk packaging.

Long one - sorry - but this is just getting started and how better to get the word out, than to get the word out!?!

Happy De-Packaging Holidays!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Whoa...TEN years already...!

Algalita's been at it (spreading news of the gyre) for TEN years! After pounding away at getting our attention to this plastics/ocean problemo, this year has been the most encouraging yet. Theirs is the 4th official expedition to the gyre this summer - read about it here (lotsa fun links & interactive maps!).

Capt Moore's campaign had a sloooow, loooonely start. Nobody wanted to believe it. Many of us couldn't believe it. But it made so much sense - and the oceans finally showed that they are finite in their capacity to deal with the human/plastic full-frontal assault. You could actually hear the cartoon light bulb turning on above your head.

The word is getting out beyond our green-centric circle - and people are responding to the problem...The Environment's the name, and Awareness is the GAME.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I [bag] NY

This is just toooo tragically funny...apparently, you can buy one here.

San Jose Takin' on The (plastics) Man

Last week, San Jose, California (backed by other local community leaders representing Palo Alto, Milpitas, Campbell and Santa Clara) punched through the semi-stagnant bag ban plastic ceiling by voting to initiate a ban BOTH plastic and paper bags at major retailers.

The target completion date is 2011, giving retailers time to prep for the change, and for the city to review any environmental issues that may be involved. READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Other California cities have been temporarily stymied by the "astro-turfing" group known as Save The Plastic Bag, who's been slapping spurious lawsuits, rooted in Calif's Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), on cities banning just the plastic bags, requiring them to study the environmental effects of increased -paper- bag, the unique 'ban everything' approach to the bag-ban process should neatly poke a finger in the eye of the STPB "activists"...D'OH!

To be sure, Surfrider's advocacy of the bag bans has come from a wide-based grassroots desire to do the best thing for the environment and for our local neighborhoods. By contrast, the STPB people's idea of being a good neighbor is to drop a costly lawsuit on cities trying to stem the "urban tumbleweed" infestation. Frankly, that aint too Chris Rock put it once, "must be how they was raaaaised!". :{

Monday, September 14, 2009

SUPS are Rubbish...!

That is the provocative title of the article that I was lucky enough to have published in the back-page "Agree to Disagree" guest-author section of the current Surfer's Path mag. Head to your local news stand to check it out, or if you live in Tierra Del Fuego or at the tippy-top of K2, you can read it here.

Surfer's Path, the "thinking (wo)man's" surf mag, does with every issue what the other surfmags do just once a year - put out a "green issue". Sourced out of Europe, with the "American issue" lead by Drew Kampion (who in the past was editor of Surfer (1968-72), Surfing (1973-82) & others), Surfer's Path is a surf mag worth your time - and not just because they spiffed me out.

Check. Surfer's. Path. Out.

Neat! Neat! Neat!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Is It Soup Yet?

Sadly, yes! An article in National Geographic tells us that plastics break down quicker than we had all originally thought (actually I hadn't quite finalized my own break-down calculations as yet) - and they leave behind all of those nasty, unpronounceable, and, unspellable (sp?) compounds that poison us all...all the way up the food chain.

It's bad enough that we've got an ocean's-wide litter problem, but the resulant "soup" is slopping it's way right up onto our dinner tables and porridge bowls...yuk.

A welcome reminder in the article is the fact that food & drink cans are lined with plastics that leach some of those same purportedly cancer-causing compound - jeez, ya can't get away from the stuff.

No soup for you!!

The GOOD news is that the infamous oceanic garbage patch is getting a LOT of attention lately - and it's no longer one of those urban legends anymore. Bravo to Algalita and Capt Charles Moore for waving the early flag - just this year, at least two Scripps Institute of Oceanography-associated research trips have plied their way to the gyre and another two awareness excursions (Junk Raft & Plastiki) have drawn 'eyes' to the problem. Now we just gotta follow through and do what we can from our end (REduce, REuse, REcycle, REpeat). Go team!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

SUP Bottle Facts & Figures for the Uninitiated

Perhaps old news to us plastic-o-philes, but this updated version of the PowerPoint concerning the costs (monetary and otherwise) of single-use plastic (SUP) bottles is peppy and informative, but you'll have to add your own music. Called "Water Disaster", I processed it into movie form for easy use...multiple-use, that is!

Check it out!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

D'oh! MO Bans Wrong Plastic From Rivers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A law taking effect this week could make criminals out of those who bring Tupperware onto many Missouri rivers.

The law was intended to reduce the floating debris from abandoned foam coolers in the state's waterways. But lawmakers, apparently a little rusty with chemistry, barred the wrong plastic.

The white foam coolers commonly called "Styrofoam" are made from expanded polystyrene. But the law bars polypropylene. That's a plastic found in things like dishwasher-safe plastic containers but not usually used to ferry drinks down a river.

The mix up means river floaters can use foam coolers without fear. But someone caught with a dishwasher-safe plastic container could risk up to a year in jail.

Thanks to Rick Wilson for the tip on this one.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Project Kaisei - Diesel Fuel from Marine Debris?

An impressive collection of scientists and environmentalists are currently 'under weigh' and trolling through the gyres of the North Pacific. Project Kaisei has converted a sailing training ship into a floating data-collection unit and ocean-going laboratory - with the ultimate goal of cleaning up the plastics that bob around in the gyre, which, as we know, are breaking down and effecting the interleaved ecosystems there.

Algalita's Captain Charles Moore has likened any attempt at cleanup of the gyres to "vacuuming the entire continent of the United States...three times over.", so they definitely have their work cut out for them. Their initial goal will be to create a documentary series intended to be circulated internationally to raise awareness, and an ultimate goal listed on their website is to figure out “how to capture, detoxify, and recycle [plastic marine debris] into diesel fuel.”

Verrrrrrry eeeenteresing...! We look forward to a press release when their voyage ends later this month...should be interesting!

Monday, July 13, 2009

How much does it cost to brainwash?

If the Plastics industry is spending this kind of dough on marketing a positive image, then the importance of image is much higher than I thought... and usually indicates that efforts against plastic are working :-)

It would great to see them using this money into more sustaible solutions, instead of brainwashing people.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Progressive Right-Coasters Pushin' The Bag Ban

"The Outer Banks [of North Carolina] is set to become the first community on the East Coast to banish those wispy plastic bags." That's what this article is claiming - they're just a governor's signature away from passing what Left Coasters are drooooling at - a bag ban fashioned to protect the coastline from this "wispy" instant-trash. Let's keep an eye on this one!!


Monday, June 29, 2009

Plastic Bags Win Again! #1 Pollution Item!

Congratz to plastics (again)! This article from an Aussie news source fingers (mainly) plastic bags as the #1 item littering our ocean environment. They also finger reusable plastic bags as a start for a SIMPLE solution...long in the making.

San Diego RAP update: Last year, two of our local County Supervisors, Pam Slater-Price and Greg Cox, showed their understanding of the plastic bag plague by giving our chapter enough money to distribute thousands of quality recycled-cotton-made-in-USA reusable bags in their districts. We passed out the final 600+ yesterday in Imperial Beach! More good news: we just heard that we may be getting more money for this specific use in the next month or so. WOOT! See if your local "electeds" have any similarly-expendable bux for your campaign - the oceans will thank you, and so will the bag-receiving constituents!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Plastic-Eatin' Microbes?

That's what they say in this article!

Apparently some teenager has done what assorted Phd's were unable to do - find (well, it was actually found by multiple players around the globe) a microbe that speeds the "breakdown" of plastics...and he wonders if there is a way to get the microbes to multiply more quickly than they already do naturally.

Rightly, the author is cautiously optimistic but wonders if the process creates other unwanted by-products, etc. An *unstated* but certainly unwanted by-product will be the feeling that we can now all enjoy single-use plastics and toss them into the microbe bin for disposal.

The process is promising, but's really just a way of fooling Mother Nature to handle a problem that we've created for ourselves - and we all know that it's not nice to fool Mother Nature...!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

History of Plastic... use it wisely

I beleive that knowledge is power. And information is the weapon I use to destroy ignorance and create understanding which then becomes a vehicle for positive change.

Enough silly talk. What I am trying to say is that when I do something for the environment that is considered "out of the norm" to the general massess (like refuse seafood, print on the back side of used paper, carry items with my hands instead of plastic bags, etc) I will often be asked why I am doing what I am doing.

I have found that if I do not do a good job explaining my actions, the person questioning me has a strange look on their face, as though they are thinking "weirdo". That is ONE reason I do my best to research and learn as much as I can about the issues I am concerned about.

Responding with "because it is good for the planet" doesn't really do much except excuse the "abnormal" activity I am engaged in. BUT giving a quick, precise and understandable response can actually change someone's mind and foster real positive action to improve the world we live in.

I have several examples of where this has worked but I have more where I do not reach people with my explanations but the only thing I can do is be proactive myself and respond to inquiring minds the best way possible.

SO... with that in mind I found a great resource with lots of information about the history of the one thing this campaign is centered around... plastic. My hope is that you will read the information contained in this site (and links) and use that information in a way that leads to reduction of plastic use for a better future on this planet.

History of Plastics

Monday, June 1, 2009

Plastiki - Another "Junk" Boat!

You're probably been hearing about this - a rich kid making a fuss about plastics in the ocean. A boat (catamaran?) made of "repurposed" plastic bottles (I hope JunkRiders remind them to glue the caps on!) making a trip to the North Pacific Garbage Patch. The more attention the problem can get, the better - everyone's got their fingers crossed for a safe crossing - and it looks like they are about to embark.

Read about it in the online magazine, Good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bisphenol-A Study: Polycarbonates=Source

A recent Harvard study showed that polycarbonate bottles do indeed appear to increase bisphenol-A levels in humans. After a "wash-out" period where study subjects drank from non-plastic bottles, they started drinking from poly bottles...and voila, bisphenol-A showed up in their urine.

The study doesn't get in to the effects, if any, of the bisphenol-A on our bodies, but does provide some interesting reading.

Read the Harvard press release here.

You can peruse a PDF of the full-blown study, as published by the journal Environmental Health Perspectives here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Visualization of the North Pacific Garbage Gyre

Taken from GOOD Magazine , May 12, 2009

Transparency: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
(Click on Image for link)

Gyre Illustration by Jacob Magraw-Mickelson

Thursday, May 14, 2009

NPGP Compendium Infographic Anyone?

Good Magazine is a great place to while away your online time (even if you are addicted to FB) - lots of smart stuff for thinking people can be found there. Clicking on over there today, I can see that they added an intriguing "infographic" that hits the updated "high" points of the North Pacific Garbage Patch. Every scintillating talking point concerning the NPGP all in one place - including a nice alphabetical list of those nasty Persistent Organic Pollutants! Good mag is da bomb!

So, again Compendium Infographic anyone?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cigarette Butts: Fish Buzz-Kill

Well, the facts are now out: second-hand butts can kill. This revelation made the rounds in the news about a week ago, but is certainly worth mentioning on our blog.

Guess what, fish dont even have to smoke to join in on the buzz-kill (emphasis on the "kill") phenomenon that is sweeping our oceans. Aside from cigarette butts being the NUMBER ONE most-littered item today, they are also composed of plastic (yep, taking forever to decompose in the environment), and they resemble yummy fish-food morsels (yep, they get stuck in sea animals' bowels, eventually killing them) - well now the experts are telling us that they also leach toxic chemicals, which can harm fish, into the ocean expert has shown that "Even one butt in a liter of water can kill the fish in a period of 96 hours.". That is pretty crazy.

You can read (and listen to) the article here. You can also Google a gaggle of related articles as well.

...and while you're out there Googling, go to YouTube and search for "Hold Onto Your Butt" to see some vids of our local anti-butt-litter campaign, which attempts to address this very issue.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em...(fish, that is)

The Joke's On Us... :(

...But it lacks the "haha" part of a joke that we all expect...

Part and parcel of all of the other bad things about bottled water is the ugly privatization issue that's also built in. Our local San Diego Food & Water Watch rep, Corie Lopez, describes some of the hidden costs of our nation's addiction to bottled water in a recently published article. (F&WW has built the "Take Back The Tap" program to address these issues.)

The article is in the form of a "PDF" file (requires a PDF-reader program) and you can find it here.

Thank you Corie!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Plastic Wave By Kathleen Egan

Thanks to Jim for making us aware of this awesome video!

The Plastic Wave from Mark Lukach on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Boss Bag Vid

Our friends in San Fran ( ) have developed a neat-o anti-bag video that you just HAVE TO SEE...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Edmonds, WA the next Bag Ban Leader

Check this news clip out. Edmonds, WA city leaders voted unanimously to direct staff to draft a ban on plastic bags within city limits. Who seems to be the only opposition? The ever-present American Chemistry Council. Even store owners support the ban. It makes economic and environmental sense... way to go Edmonds.

Here's the cool thing - the city leaders voted on this after a 20 minute presentation from Algalita Marine Research Foundation's Anna Cummins and Dr. Marcus Eriksen who have just begun their JUNKRIDE. Giving away 100 samples of the plastics riddled N Pacific Gyre to educators and organizations, they are cycling from Vancouver to Tijuana giving talks to raise awareness about the problem of plastic pollution.

And clearly, it's working... Ride on Anna and Marcus!

Monday, April 6, 2009

RAP Style Line - Tattoo U!

We thank Vickie McMurchie (left) for being the first progressive soul to sport a custom RAP tattoo... The tattoo was created by Surfrider CEO/Closet Artist Jim Moriarty. His bio says he's an "innovator" and well, ya gotta admit - it's a good look!

Vickie is the
Community & Events Manager at Surfrider Global Headquarters in San Clemente, and I bet this accessory has only added to her innate ability to engage and entertain anyone within a 30 meter radius. She's got that gift - and now wears her RAP colors on her sleeve...literally.

Next on the catwalk (right) we have
St├ęphane Latxague, the "Directeur"/CEO of Surfrider Foundation Europe, sporting the Franco-Euro version of the now-popular RAP skull & cross botts - note the 'au courant' chapeau touch! This design also floated out of the active mind of Mr. Moriarty. Fantastique!

Get yours today (or use a Sharpie like JM) and Rise Above! [...and however you'd say that in Francais...!]

So Dang Clever...but missing the point.

Put your finger in the dike and the water/brain-belches squirts out somewhere else. File this one in the "Half-as-clever-as-they-see-themselves" circular bin... So we've established that plastics are bad - bad for you and bad for the environment, so the near-clever product specialists at bottled water companies are finding new and comical ways to sell you something (water) that you can get otherwise for free...

Aquafina has plans to produce bottles with 50% less plastic - will that make them 50% less visible as they sit in my local gutters or float around in the North Pacific Garbage Patch? Another company is so semi-clever that they have outsmarted us all by selling water in cartons! Dang, finally someone has created the ultimate product...which I believe is conventionally un-recyclable...and features one of my plastic pet peeves, an instant-trash plastic cap where a foldable top will work juuuust fine. Back to the drawing board, Einsteins!

Read about this amazing progress here!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bottled-Water Zombies - OUT'D!

BOTTLE SHOCK: Just finished my garbanzo (excellent word - I wish ma woulda named me that) bean soup lunch, so it's time to POST! This article is a couple of weeks old, but anything from GOOD mag is, well, good if not just plain extra-special - and it can serve as kind of a FAQ for those of us that are trying to understand the appeal of the gotta-have-a-single-use-plastic-bottle-on-me-at-all-times trend/phenom/addiction/attack-on-the-environment. See item #4 for an idea for a business contraption that might land you some stimulus bux...then see item #10 for the reason that you are too smart to fall into lockstep with the SUP bottle brigade.

The answers are all here - it's "Bottle Shock", so CHECK IT OUT!

YUKK: Another oddball thing I found out on the internet(s) is a new bottled water called YUKK. Cant wait to choke me down some of that tasty stuff - mmmm, good! Now maybe I'm misunderstanding this or maybe it's some sort of sick (not the good kind of 'sick') Aussie April Fools prank - and I'm still trying to reconcile the limited product line of organic coffee and bottled water, but Mom always did say that I've had "too much to think", so I'll leave it to you to figure out...

So, have at it and do your YUKK-y figuring here.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nerd Alert! (Water & Wastewater News Article)

So it's Sunday and what does a good shut-in do? Read Water & Wastewater News! ...and look what pops up: an article about the Ocean Conservancy's annual Marine Debris Index - hooray!

For us insiders, the news ain't that revelatory, but repeatedly pounding home the fact that the oceans are being pumped full of our plastic detritus helps drive the RAP message out to the hoi polloi - now, to the point that the pen-protector set at W&WN are taking notice AND feeding it out to their readers, by making note of the OC's findings. The nerdosphere in action!

This year's report is titled "A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris and What We Can Do About It", so doesnt just report stats, but suggests changes that we can make to stop the problem - one of the original tenets of RAP. ...Speaking of the stats tho: Cigarette butts continue to be the top performer (see Surfrider's Hold On To Your Butt campaign), with the old stand-by plastic bag holding fast in second place.

Check out the short article at Water & Wastewater News.

Download the full report from the Ocean Conservancy.

Oldie but GOODIE! (Fast Company article)

Got time to read a 10-page article on bottled water - ugh,! Actually, this one is really pretty riveting, and was published by the hipsterish and trendy biz mag, Fast Company. It's packed with with loads of eye-popping stats and an interesting side-exploration into the ugly & costly production lines of the Fiji water company in, ...well, Fiji.

This article refers to this insipid bottled water phenom, as "the food phenomenon of our times" - and get this: "At Whole Foods, the upscale emporium of the organic and exotic, bottled water is the number-one item by units sold." [ kombucha only comes in glass bottles... :) ]

"Oldie" because the article is about a year and a half old...but not much has changed on this front since. "Goodie" because it lays the problem cleanly and clearly - a great place to point your nay-saying friends and family for a little dose of bottled reality. AWRIGHT!

Find it HERE & enjoy it to the last drop.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


The Surfrider Foundation Portland Chapter Chair Stiv Wilson has just launched a new blog to help raise awareness of the impact of plastic pollution on the world's oceans!

PLASTICFAIL is based on the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Stiv is currently looking for entries for the picture blog. So if you have a great photo or video link showing plastic's impact on our environment please send it to Stiv with your name and a very short entry and he will get it posted.

All Your Fault

I tend to pay attention to issues and subjects when I am entertained by the media that is presenting them. In my opinion, the best form of entertainment is comedy because it tends to cause an individual to disarm themselves, drop their barriers and keep their attention. It also leaves an indelible imprint in their mind to be drawn upon later. This is especially true when dealing with social issues.

I came across the following video on Youtube. It was done by Australian Darcy Pendergast who is a past winner of the Nestle Big Break Contest. While he may take some artistic liberties in historical events, the video's message is clear, concise and effective!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More Moore!

The more that I read, the more that I realize that recycling is not the answer but reduction in consumption is. What is already out there in our oceans can never be cleaned up and the only course of action is to stop using the single use plastic. Stop using throw away utensils, plates, shopping bags, water, soft-drink and sport-drink bottles.

To quote a friend of mine, "It is like bailing out a sinking ship with a teacup!".

Quite honestly, I still flub up here and there, but if you do not think that we as individuals need to change our consumption and disposal habits then please watch the following presentation from TED by Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

Captain Charles Moore
February 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Watch The Story of Inky

Thursday, February 19, 2009


KOCT - the local Oceanside news station provided some excellent coverage of our Day Without a Bag event this past December. To check it out, click the link below and select the Day Without a Bag story.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finally Coming Around...?

We hammer away on this plastics issue, hoping to sway common thought and here-to-fore accepted practices, and through our incremental outreach, we see that people are beginning to understand the problem... But it's always a nice surprise to see community writers come to our logical realizations on the issue and take the next step of relating it to their often-wider gallery of listeners/readers.

The on-line-only tome, San Diego Newsroom, advocates for our local pending bag ban issue, not only with bravura, but with it's sensible feet firmly placed in the most recent stimulus package - briefly showing the substantial costs of these bags on municipalities.

The article ( check it out here ) has already generated one comment, click over to it and make an appropriate comment yourself! Awright!

Precycling, You Doin' It?

This tidbit from the Cape Cod Times made me think about something I've been doing but didn't have a clever name for: Precycling! 

I hope you are recycling, but have you ever thought about precycling? Precycling is making buying decisions based in part on the amount of packing you will have to dispose of once you get the items home. Make sure plastic containers are recyclable and that there aren't layers and layers of plastic on items that will end up in the landfill. It's all about paying attention.
Some cool articles and tips on Precycling:

EDF Article: Precycling: Shopping for Future Generations
Everybody shops. But not everybody realizes how environmentally important it is to shop consciously...

Consumer Reports Blog: Buzzword: Precycle
What it means. Precycling represents the next generation in residential-waste management...

Precycling -- think of it as the choices you can easily make before you recycle or discard packaging or almost any household item. [This piece has some great helpful links]

New York State Department of Conservation: Let's Precycle
Hey, New York!...PREvent waste before you reCYCLE!

Are you precycling? What sort of things are you doing to reduce waste and Rise Above Plastics?

Graphic courtesy of Indiana Recycling Coalition

Thursday, February 12, 2009

South Texas Chapter Scores Plastics Victory

The newest of the Surfrider Foundation's Texas Chapter Network, the South Texas Chapter, has scored a victory in the fight against the littering of our ocean with plastics, coastal armoring and enforcing the Texas Open Beaches Act.

Since the 2005 tropical season events of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf of Mexico, the La Quinta Hotel on South Padre Island, Texas has been doing everything it could think of to keep the Gulf back. The La Quinta was, depending on who you ask, knowingly or unknowingly built past the critical dune line and in an erosional hot spot. Even though the 2005 hurricanes made landfall far north of South Padre, the barrier island experienced strong storm surges which resulted in the acceleration of erosion of the beach in front of the La Quinta.

The owner's response was to illegally start stacking thousands of polypropylene sandbags in front if his retaining wall, cover them with sand, plant some vegetation and call it a sand dune. This was done without the required beach construction permits that the Texas General Land Office and Town's Beach and Dune Task Force required to do so. Not to mention that the placement of plastics onto the beach is considered an illegal landfill by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Complaints were made with initially very little response or action by the GLO or the Town. However after the surge by Hurricane Ike caused the dune to wash out and spill the whole, partial and sun-rotted plastic sandbags into the public beach easement and Gulf of Mexico complaints increased and the GLO and TCEQ took notice.

Below is the letter addressing South Padre Island's Coastal Resources Manager, who has helped us with this issue, from the Texas General Land Office notifying La Quinta of its violations of the Texas Open Beaches Act, Dune Protection Act and South Padre Island's Beach and Dune Protection Plan and warning the Town to enforce its approved beach and dune plan by having the La Quinta remove all of the polypropylene sandbags or risk losing Coastal Erosion Planning and Response Act Funding.

January 26,2009

Via Electronic Mail

The General Land Office (GLO) received several complaints concerning the placement of sand bags on and adjacent to the public beach at 7000 Padre Blvd seaward of the La Quinta Hotel in the Town of South Padre Island (Town). The location of the sand bags are less than 1,000 feet landward of the mean high tide line and seaward of the Town's dune protection line adopted by the Town of South Padre Island Dune Protection and Beach Access Plan October 5, 1994 (1994 Plan). The placement of the sand bags, within the beachfront construction/dune protection area requires a Beachfront Construction Certificate and Dune Protection Permit. The GLO has no record of reviewing an application for a Beachfront Construction Certificate and Dune Protection Permit for the placement of the sand bags. If the Town issued a building permit for the construction of the sand bags without GLO review of a Beachfront Construction Certificate and a Dune Protection Permit (if required), it has violated the terms of the 1994 Plan certified as consistent with state law at 3 1 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) 5 15.30.

The placement of the sand bags on the public beach easement and construction of a shore protection project without a certificate or permit are direct violations of the Open Beaches Act ,Dune Protection Act, Beach/Dune Rules and the 1994 Plan. The Town of South Padre Island must enforce the provisions within the 1994 Plan or the GLO may make a determination of non-compliance with the local plan. If the Town does not address the issue of non-compliance, the GLO may determine that the town is not adequately administering its local plan, which could jeopardize the Town's ability to receive state funds from the Coastal Erosion Planning and Response Act (CEPRA). Our CEPRA project manager is currently looking at options to assist in the placement of sand in this area. The placement of beach quality sand is an acceptable erosion response project. Other options include the placement of a natural dune or a Town sponsored shore protection project in accordance with the Beach/Dune and Coastal Coordination Council Rules.


Eddie Fisher
Director, Coastal Stewardship
Coastal Resources Division

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fish (and Human) Belly Contents

" The old saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." But what if one man's trash becomes another man's dinner? "

ABC News' Good Morning America presented an informative segment about the root problem of plastic marine debris: we are changing the very composition of the ocean to the point where fish cannot avoid eating plastic particles. ...And ya know what that means...yep...we humans end up closing that circle, and bringing that plastic back "home" by eating those fish and absorbing the toxins which accrete to the plastics while they wait to be eaten by those fish. Whew - complicated! Not.

Watch their video "Watery Waste On the Dinner Table", complete with a nice synopsis of the North Pacific Gyre and footage of Charles Moore on his boat out in "the patch".

Bon appetite!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Never too Early...

At the Sanderling Waldorf School in Encinitas, the children learn from an early age the importance of protecting the environment. This inspiring North County community is doing what they can to Rise Above Plastics! Sanderling not only participates in California Costal Cleanup Day, but the school as a whole is a plastic free zone. All of the toys and supplies are made from natural materials and the food that is prepared at the school is organic and served in glass bowls. In addition, the children compost their food waste and use it in the school's vegetable garden. The teachers and parents of this community know that these important lessons that the children learn now will stay with them throughout their lives. Watch this video and find out more!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Photos from Padang, Sumatra

A friend forwarded me these photos from the public beach located in Padang, Sumatra.

There is a neighboring surf break that foreigners and locals alikerefer to as "Cholera Creek"...for obvious reasons. Due to the lack of refuse programs, the Public Beach in Padang,Sumatra is dramatically littered with items including plastics of all sorts, rubber, clothing and glass. Children use washed up pieces of wood for boogie-boards in the surf onthis shore.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Modeling: Slow n Steady

It would be interesting to plant one of those band-aid sized anxiety meter monitors on my temple next time I go to the grocery store. As the person ahead of me is processing his or her transaction, and my goods are on the checkout belt waiting to get scanned, I begin to note the faintest hint of agitation growing within me. I watch the preceding customer's interaction carefully, and usually there is some mishap- one of the few remaining newbies swipes his card backwards; the woman's savings card number doesn't work; but the sign said that the artichokes were on sale!...etc. Though infuriating to most, I exalt in the confusion because it gives me time to assess the clerk and to strategize my move. Speed is of the essence. I must thrust my canvas totebags on the counter at the exact right moment or my plans will be (momentarily) foiled. Oh dear! Suddenly they are finished and it's my turn but the person ahead hasn't moved forward and in a time factor that can be measured in tenths of seconds my broccolini is already being pitched into the open plastic bag. "No that's OK!" I cry out. "I've got some bags," holding them up with unappreciated triumph, and begin rebagging my food.

You see, I've moved temporarily to the mountain town of Truckee, CA, up in the mountains near Lake Tahoe - far from the coast, and far from my small local grocery store where I supposed they have become used to more of us bringing in our own tote bags. It seems the plastic bag bans and BYO awareness that we see popping up predominantly around coastal U.S. cities have not made their way inland yet. The comments I've gotten from the grocery store checkout clerks here regarding my totes include:
"Look out, we've got a rebel!"
"Oh my, are we saving the planet today?"
"Boy, you must need that 5 cent discount pretty bad."

Hence the little anxiety meter, it would just be a blip I know, but it would probably register as I brace for the comments and conceive my response. The corresponding responses so far, always with a bright smile:
"Hopefully not for long! "
"Yep! Just doing my part, love the planet what can I say!"
"Not really! :)"

Then, molasses me sets in, one of my favorite modes. I slowly walk away, and slowly make my way down the store, and slowly walk down the parking lot. I hope somebody notices. In this situation, all I can do is model, is hope the food-full canvas totes over the shoulders catches the attention of a passerby and inspires them to do the same next time. I don't want to be a rebel. I don't want to need to save the planet. And I certainly don't want to be desperate for 5 cents. But, at the risk of sounding like a Clockwork Orange nutjob, I do want to contribute to behavior modification. Tiny little steps. Metamorphosis.