Sunday, January 31, 2010


This great news is from our Santa Cruz, CA Surfrider activists:


Oh, yeah!

Remember we told you we posted a "support" letter from the Santa Cruz Chapter to the Seaside Mayor and City Council regarding their intention to discuss and vote on a polystyrene take-out food container ban in the city? Well, we're very pleased to report that the Seaside City Council voted in favor of the ordinance in a unanimous vote at their regular meeting of January 21!

So, this makes it 5 cities in Monterey County who have enacted polystyrene food container take-out bans: Seaside, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel, and Del Ray Oaks. These cities join all 5 jurisdictions in Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County, Capitola, Scotts Valley and Watsonville, that have already established similar bans!

Cool huh? And we're sure the seabirds, seals, and otters all thank all jurisdictions which have taken this important step towards reducing the "plastic plague" which threatens all forms of wildlife, too.


CIAO Styrofoam - Don't let the door hit you on your way out!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

5 Gyres - Stiv Wilson Update #1

Stiv Wilson, Surfrider "Ambassador", Portland (Oregon) activist, and Wend Magazine editor, is traveling with Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen (yes, of Algalita, JunkRide AND Junk Raft fame!) on their Atlantic leg of the 5 Gyres quest for sea-going plastic waste.

Starting near Bermuda's infamous triangle, they are sailing northward to study plastic waste accumulations in areas other than the now-well-documented North Pacific Gyre.

Stiv is slated to issue periodic updates during the trip, and this first one comes to us as a link to the dispatch on the Wend Mag website. Just looking at the above photo tells part of the sure to read the rest - and stay tuned for more updates as the voyage continues...

As the olde saying goes: "I know of a cure for everything: salt water... Sweat, tears, or the salt sea." AAAARRrrrggghh!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Trash Killing Whales in The Med?

Odd bad news from out of Foggia, Italy on the Adriatic Sea - a number of Sperm whales beached themselves and died, a result of complications of eating pelagic (ocean-going) plastics and other trash, according to local researchers.

Should it be a surprise? Not really - sadly, it makes sense, with the oceans now becoming the go-to end-point for all of the stuff that we don't want...that doesn't make it to the landfill, or recycler.

The source article is scant on information, and mass beachings are always a surprising, perplexing occurrence, but a quick web search of "foggia whales" turns up more details. This article features a photo of one of the whales on a...scenic, trash-strewn beach - making a good case for the trash-ingesting diagnosis.

The Mediterranean is a legendary, wonderful region, though while living there in the late '80s, one of my most vivid memories of the place was stepping on a submerged plastic soap bottle while swimming along a Mid-Eastern coast - shocking for someone used to the relative trash-less-ness of Southern California beaches of that time! That was ~20 years ago, but I bet that bottle is still out there, swirling around... :(

Keep an eye on your plastics and bin your butts!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brownsville, TX Bans The Bag!

Brownsville, Texas has become the first city in the state of Texas to successfully pass a plastic bag ban ordinance. I will be the first to admit that I was blown away when I heard that they had actually pulled this off. It took them two years of hard work to do so and I would like to congratulate the City for their efforts!

The ordinance (below) sets up a one year voluntary compliance with a mandatory compliance to go into effect in 2011. It allows for the use of reusable cloth bags, approved biodegradable plastic bags and recyclable paper bags to be used in the place of the traditional plastic bags that we have become accustomed to. It also sets up an advisory committee to oversee the implementation and enforcement of the new ordinance.

After talking with local Lower Laguna Madre area officials in the City of South Padre Island and Port Isabel, it seems that they are very interested in moving forward on a similar law in order to protect our Laguna Madre, Gulf of Mexico and their beaches from the dangers and negative effects of what has been popularly called Texas' new tumbleweeds.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fab Bag Vid

With a shoutout to our friends over at the Plastic Pollution Coalition, I proudly snatch one of their recent posts to bring you a fab BYOBag video - here is their post:

"We are delighted to share with you this YouTube video, an awesome music clip featuring Tim Minchin. The message is as simple as it is important: bring your own canvas bags to the store!

Directed by Stephen Leslie, this video was originally recorded for BBC’s Comedy Shuffle. We’d like to thank our friend Sara Bayles, author of the popular blog The Daily Ocean for giving us the heads up."

Take time to check the Plastic Pollution Coalition website out - they got their heads screwed on juuuust right!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Aveda Caps Program Still Collecting!

This reminder from our Rhode Island correspondent, Kira Stillwell, whose daughter, Bryn, attends Narragansett Elementary School. They are throwing down a challenge to other schools to see who can collect the most voluminous heaps of plastic bottle caps.

The school sent the following message home with their students recently: "Imagine the impact on this recycling effort when thousands of schools across the country participate! This program educates students (and families) and underscores the importance of positive change, as well as our responsibility for taking care of our environment. It empowers us all to stimulate change on a local and national level. Beyond the benefits to environmental conservation, it teaches us that when we work together with a common purpose, we can effect change!"

Hot-diggety - therez finally some lernin' goin' on at them schools!!

AND, that message is resonating - so far they have three large bulging bags of caps in the school lobby, with the goal of filling the space with forty more. Getting this type of awareness tattoo'd into pre-teen synapses is of utmost importance, as it can build lifelong understanding and appreciation of the impact we have on the environment, inadvertently, just by our everyday use of otherwise-innocuous items like bottle caps.

Not all caps are candidates for this recycling program, so please take the time to visit the Aveda website to view the particulars and download goodies like nature-with-bottle-caps images suitable for coloring...AWRIGHT!

Bravo Bryn, Kira and NES!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CA Recylers Ripped Off by State

How can I report this in a positive tone? Let’s start with a description of California’s recycling program: every “recyclable” bottle and can is sold with a minimum five cent CRV (Calif Redemption Value) charge. That five cents goes into a fund intended, essentially, to repay those that return their used containers – easy enough to understand, yes?

Interestingly, a lot of Californians just never seek the CRV refunds, instead opting to throw the items away or “curbside” recycle them via local municipal pick-up. Bottom line, the program takes in muuuuch more $$$ than it doles out. [I like what you are thinking, “Use that $$$ to enhance the program!!!” – but stop a minute and try to think like a half-wit, thievin’, greaseball politician… :) OK, now read on.]

The state, now broke after a drunken-sailor spending spree decade, smells the sweet aroma of idle $$$ piling up and pretty-much steals from this fund to pay for costs of unrelated state activities that they apparently thought would somehow pay for themselves…ugh! Subsequently, our recycling programs are suffering, recycling centers are closing and the recycling effort’s future is atrophying.

Lots of lame-o excuses and half-baked, odd-ball ideas from the govvies on how to “save” this program are put forth in the article – none of which fully entail them putting the recycling $$$ back into the recycling program [sorry, that’s too simple]. As comedian Chris Rock may quip, “I guess it’s how they wuz rrraaAAaaiiised!”

OK, “positive tone” item: additional CRV fees are proposed to help cover the higher costs of recycling some fringe plastics – let’s hope the politicians don’t sneak this $$$ away for their retirement funds, gerrymandering costs or “new bridges to nowhere”.

Final smart-alec remark: Don’t Steal, the Government Hates Competition!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sign of the Times!

Well…let us all take credit for this one – we are changing society. I shot this photo outside of a single location of the “largest food retailer in Southern California” – this sign ain’t just posted outside the hippy-dippy organic coop (where I normally shop!). This is a big deal: you cant drive more than about five miles around this area without seeing one of their 400 locations – and they are telling their customers to remember their reusable bags – Chido, SWEEET & Bravazo!!

We are talking about a nice big shift in thinking at the retail level about the problem of single-use plastics. (I’ve protected the store’s name, so that the very un-neighborly American Chemistry Council doesn’t cause any trouble for them…and you know they would.)

It’s true that every time I go to the grocery store, I see more and more people bringing their reusable bags,. So (y)our message is sinking in…it’s just taking time… So keep on setting a fine example at restaurants, hardware stores, department stores and even thrift stores (though the latter is a great place to get reusable bags for CHEEP!) – places other than a grocery store that still dispense plastic bags.

Even my mom even remembers to take her bags out of the car when she shops, so times they are a-changin’ – NICE!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Focusing Attention on the Other Gyres

The 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' has slowly gained much needed recognition, and that's a good thing, but what about the swirling garbage in the other 4 major Gyres? An energetic group of marine scientists are about to start investigating them with the 5 Gyres Project, the first global study of plastic marine pollution. A collaboration between three groups; The Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF), Livable Legacy, and Pangaea Explorations; 5 Gyres will expand upon AMRF’s groundbreaking research on plastic pollution in the North Pacific Gyre, where wind and current patterns circulate untold billions of plastic particles. The 5 Gyres Project will begin to sail January 7th across the North Atlantic, and again in August across the South Atlantic Gyre, researching plastic. Surfrider’s Stiv Wilson, Chair of the Portland, Oregon Chapter and editor-in-chief of Wend Magazine will be on board of the first sail as part of the research team.

"Our plastic pollution is literally entering the food chain, getting into the food we eat and potentially exposing us to toxic chemicals” said actor/activist Ed Begley Jr., “we need to change our disposable habits now - we simply can’t afford to keep trashing our oceans.”

Through two research expeditions across the North and South Atlantic Gyres, 5 Gyres will gather international data on plastic pollution, collecting surface samples and foraging fish for evidence of plastic ingestion. Directing the research, funding, and communications for the project, husband-wife team Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins will manage both expeditions. Dr. Eriksen, AMRF’s Director of Project Development, and Cummins, co-founder of Livable Legacy, Inc., have traveled previously with Captain Moore across the North Pacific Gyre.

“We’ve now seen how bad things are in the North Pacific gyre, as plastic trash continues to wash off our coasts and out to sea,” stated Cummins. “We know very little however about plastic pollution in the four other large oceanic gyres. This is a chance to go global with the research and with our public communication campaigns.”

The crew will maintain a blog documenting the voyage at including videos and photographs of the research. Also on the site is an overview of plastic marine pollution – ecosystem impacts, scientific literature, and land-based solutions

The first leg of the North Atlantic expedition will set sail on January 7th from the US Virgin Islands and will cross the Sargasso Sea, an area of relative calm between the West Indies and the Azores. The crew will stop in Bermuda, giving a series of public lectures with local NGOs, meeting with the American Ambassador to Bermuda, and picking up new crewmembers before sailing on to the Azores. The second expedition in August, 2010 will cross the South Atlantic Gyre, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Cape Town, South Africa. To date, little research on plastic pollution has been conducted in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Our research goals are to understand the endgame for plastic pollution at sea by sampling the ocean surface, seafloor, and the contents of fish stomachs.” Said Dr. Marcus Eriksen.

San Francisco based Blue Turtle is the project’s title sponsor, with key additional sponsorship provided by Ecousable, Quiksilver Foundation, Patagonia, Keen Footwear, Surfrider Foundation, and Aquapac.

The crew will follow the two Atlantic gyre voyages with a yearlong public communications project titled “The Last Straw”. Eriksen and Cummins will embark on a 2000-mile North America East Coast cycling/speaking tour to lecture about the Atlantic plastic soup, and will build a boat from a quarter-million plastic straws in Paris, France. The boat, to be called “STRA,” will sail the Seine River and cross the English Channel. “Like the JUNKraft that sailed across the Pacific Ocean on 15,000 plastic bottles,” explained Eriksen, “STRA will also bring attention to the environmental hazards of plastic pollution and begin the important conversation about solutions.”

Check back regularly for their reports here.....
Go crew!!