Saturday, March 26, 2011

The 5th International Marine Debris Conference: 5IMDC

This week, Surfrider Foundation participated in the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. The conference brought together over 440 participants from 35 countries to discuss the most pressing issues surrounding plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and NOAA were the co-organizers of the conference, and it brought in strange bedfellows in terms of sponsorship, including Coca-Cola and the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The ACC has also been pouring money into campaigns against single-use bag bans popping up in progressive cities, regions and countries across the world as a means to prevent marine debris. On the other hand, the UNEP has issued this statement:

"Some of the litter, like thin-film single-use plastic bags, which choke marine life, should be banned or phased out rapidly everywhere," UNEP director Achim Steiner said in a report overview. "There is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore, anywhere.”

Here is an interview with one notable conference keynote speaker, Roz Savage, ocean rower and amazing individual engaged in the issue of plastic pollution. Roz was also recently interviewed by Newsweek.

Since the conference brought together NGO's, government, scientists and industry, it was difficult for conference attendees to all agree on all solutions to plastic pollution issues, such as bans or fees on easily littered items (recommended by Surfrider Foundation and many other NGOs) or just the recycling of products (recommended by industry). Due to the less than 9% recycling rate from the latest EPA data and the increasing rate of generation of these products, Surfrider and many others argued that there cannot be more of the same policies. We want to take a step forward to stop the increasing amount of trash found in our oceans.

The conference organizers strived to formulate a Honolulu Commitment and Honolulu Strategy. The Commitment references target reductions and bases it's action items on the Strategy, which has yet to reach final form. Conference Participants will have the next two weeks to enter comments on the Strategy and decide whether to sign on. For Surfrider Foundation, this decision will hinge on whether the Strategy document truly calls us to effectively stem the tide of plastic pollution.

One thing everyone could agree on was the excitement of seeing Hawaii's own Jack Johnson, noted supporter of organizations like Surfrider Foundation and Kokua Foundation, play at the final session of the conference. Jack's opening number, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" illustrated his commitment to reducing plastic pollution in his hometown of North Shore, Hawaii and across the globe.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What Inspires?

This one kinda surprised me – reading a recent interview with Nick Denton, known for his family of irreverent and often snotty blogs (gawker, gizmodo, wonkette, fleshbot, etc), I found some inspiring words that neatly lend themselves to environmental activism.

In commenting on an “inflexibly idealistic” colleague of his, he was quoted with, “[people like that] never succeed. And you don’t need to indoctrinate a whole other generation of people to lead frustrated lives.” He finishes the thought with, “I don’t see what the point is [for any pursuit] unless you succeed at what you’re doing. I don’t have a huge amount of time for noble failure.”

Noble Failure
, indeed. Who's got time for that? Let’s keep that to a minimum in our single-use plastics abatement schema! How do we boost our success rate at Surfrider?? We use a campaign planning worksheet to plot our moves to counter “urban tumbleweeds”, plastics in our oceans and that nasty, ubiquitous Styrofoam Scourge. The worksheet focuses us to identify our campaign adversaries, allies, short/mid/long-term goals, costs, etc, etc – it’s the magic pill in staunching off them Noble Failures.

Above all, remain flexible in your idealism – and - If you are involved with Surfrider, ask your local chapter leaders about obtaining the campaign planning worksheet – and FILL IT OUT to plan your attack! If you are not yet involved with Surfrider, hitch your wagon to this foundation (now celebrating 150 Victories!), get active and start your Noble Successes here & now! BOOM!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Roamin' RAPster

5Gyres employee and Surfrider Rise Above Plastics volunteer-activist (and I emphasize "active") Stiv Wilson was written-up in an Oregon weekly recently. In this blog we've given you updates on his work with 5Gyres founders and anti-plastic-pollution superstars Marcus Eriksen and (wife) Anna Cummins, as they sail the globe exploring the world's ocean gyres to pull eyes toward and raise awareness of the extent of plastic pollution littering our seas.

Sailing the globe! Outing the bad guys (us)! Check out the in-depth Willamette Weekly article about Stiv and Oregon's Ban The Bag effort here, check out 5gyres & plan your ride-along on one of their expeditions here and HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND with dreams of sailing the bounding mane!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is BPA Free Plastic Safe? Do You Want to Take the Chance?

Out of the UK comes an article wondering if BPA free plastic is safe. Well, we do know that it isn't safe for our oceans and other water bodies but is it safe for our bodies? The article points to a US report published on March 2 that tested BPA free plastic items and still found them to release harmful chemicals. And yeah, plastics industry this is a National Institutes of Health report not something someone did in their garage.

Read the study here.
And the article here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Forked Tongues... and =======> GO OREGON!

A couple of recent articles in finds the plastics industry’s fork-ed tongue flashing with great agitation and directionless floppery. One article tells of the sorry state of recycling for plastic bags, sheeting and “films”, while another has “stupid plastics” (my quotes) single-use-plastic-bag-producer Hilex Poly telling us, via their vapid bag-the-ban “campaign”, that we can easily recycle our way out of the worldwide plastic bag trash problem.


You may remember Hilex as a source of much of the cash that was dumped into the wide-open, money-stained, overfed jowls of California and Seattle politicians in successful efforts to stop recent bag ban efforts in those places. Seems that the only thing successfully being recycled is the $$$ that orbits back and forth between lobbyists and ‘electeds’ when grassroots movements aimed at improving American and international life need a good quashing in favor of “jobs”. Our Oregonian Surfrider brethren (and sistren) are battling these nimrods right now over the proposed state-wide bag ban. Do what you can to help ‘em beat down whack plastics, check in on these chapter sites – they are each calling out for RAP volunteers: Newport, Portland & Siuslaw. GO NOW!! [Read the heinous article & get fired-up about Oregon's proposed STATEWIDE BAG BAN.]

Disclaimer: Though recycling is one of our few current tools to stem the flood of single-use plastics into our unsuspecting world, I, for one, feel that if I have gotten to the point where I need to recycle a single-use plastic item, I have failed by acquiring that item in the first place. The plastics industry hypes recycling as the “solution” to the disposal problem that they have neatly assigned to us – it has somehow become our problem to dispose of the waste of their manufacturing process. It’s flat bass-ackwards…and it fails to address the root problem (the long life of single-use plastics), while instead only directing attention to easing just the symptom (trash on our beaches, plastics in our ocean, dead sea life and jacked-up food chains) – the very thing that makes junkies junkies.

I know, kinda heavy, but DANG – it’s a war out there...


Thursday, March 10, 2011

What is 'Rise Above Plastics' by Angela Howe.

Surfrider Foundation's Legal Manager Angela Howe talking about the "Rise Above Plastics" Campaign, it's far reaching battles and victories and how you can plug in on a local level!

Monday, March 7, 2011

New RAP Czar!

He was once crowned “Lifeguard of the Year” in Rehoboth Beach Delaware. Enviable!

He has been an activist, professional environmentalist, and more officially, the Chapter Coordinator for the San Diego chapter of Surfrider, the largest Surfrider Foundation chapter in the known universe. BOSS!

He was in the room the day that Rise Above Plastics was conceived six (or so) years ago. (Along with Stefanie Sekich, Alan Honadle, Belinda Smith AND Julia Chunn, among other heavy hitters.) He’s got the bug!

Every wave comes to him when he’s out surfing, even the cr@ppy ones – and he catches ‘em all, rides ‘em all, somehow w/o snatching any of yours. Nicely bizarre…or bizarrely nice!

I THINK I heard him cuss…twice, in the seven years we’ve been friends. RARE!

He got married on my birthday (odd, but true). I’ll probably remember his anniversary better than he will!

He calls “PLASTIC FANTASTIC!” on me when he catches me with some item of unavoidable plastic trash (the kind you can only avoid if you live in a cave – and never leave). Punk!

His hair is SUPER surfy! He could make a pillow from the spoils his annual haircut (but not a pillow that you’d actually want)!

I think he owes me $10. PUNK!

He is my friend.

Now…he is the new RAP Czar (I’m not sure HQ has named the role yet), taking over for Surfrider Legal Maven/Temptress/Oracle Angela Howe, Esq., who’s now got room on her plate for all of that other stuff stacking up on her desk that her boss has been yelling at her about. CONGRATZ!

His name is Bill Hickman.

Expect Surfrider’s Global Rise Above Plastics campaign to RAMP UP -->to-the-max<-- from here on out. So, join us as we continue to “kick @ss and take initials” – we don’t have time for names!

Watch this space for future blog entries from the very dewd himself – OK!