Cutting down Single-Use Plastics in Miami

Free photo Tropics Plastic Pollution Garbage Beach Ocean - Max Pixel

A recent blog post by Ocean Conservancy has brought up new ideas that help protect the beaches of Miami, Florida. This post written by Victoria SanJuan, a professional scuba diver and ocean lover believes that today’s youth is the next step to success in taking care of our oceans. This generation faces challenges of ocean pollution and environmental dangers. Through teaching kids the importance of recycling and taking care of our planet at young age, we will instill a standard for ourselves that will continue on.

Ocean conservancy organizations like Big Blue Crews “Plastic Free MVP’s” are led by young students who want to make a change. Their goal is,

“to gradually reduce Miami Beach businesses’ plastic practices and prove that sustainability can be beneficial to business owners’ wallets and improve the health of the local environment.”

By involving businesses, it provides viable ways for properly disposing of plastics and also advertises recycling to the public.

“Businesses that pledge to use sustainable products are promoted by Debris Free Oceans and the City of Miami Beach on social media. They receive a plaque, which they can exhibit to customers, that states they are an Ocean-Friendly Establishment  and are featured on Miami Beach’s ocean-friendly business website.”

I hope to see Businesses on the West Coast taking part in finding sustainable ways for disposing of plastics and set examples for other companies to do the same. By setting a standard, we can make recycling and taking care of our planet a role in peoples daily lives and better our Earth for the future.

The Effects Bottled Water Has on Our Environment

Plastic Bottles & Ocean Pollution

In a recent article put out by The Guardian has explained that buying bottled water could result in a 3,500 times higher cost of resource extraction than if people drank tap water. That is a huge number that can easily be fixed by the actions of others. This research was done by Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) where they found that bottled water could cost up to $83.9 million dollars in resource extraction. One of the main problems in the past was that tap water was said to be unhealthy and cause bladder cancer. But researchers have said,

“Yes, strictly speaking, drinking tap water is worse for local health, but when you weigh both, what you gain from drinking bottled water is minimal.” 

The Guardian

Ideas have been brought up to help raise awareness for cutting down on bottled water. One of the best ideas is to hold educational campaigns that helps people understand the truth on plastic pollution and to turn to tap water instead. Another great idea is having easier access to public water. These are great alternatives to bottled water and allow for a more open and eco-friendly way of consuming water.

I believe that these ideas should be implemented in cities all around the world and must more educational campaigns to teach the public how bottled water can affect our environment. In the future, I hope to see more places taking on these solutions and help spread awareness on this global issue.

Coca-Cola and McDonalds make up 2/3’s of the UK’s Packaging and Plastic Pollution

McDonald's makes up the greatest proportion of England's litter by brand |  Daily Mail Online

In a recent article publish by THE BIG ISSUE Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Tesco are responsible for 65% of packaging collected across the UK. An interview with a conservation scientist Brendan Godly explained,

“Plastic packaging is polluting the ocean, impacting marine species and destroying habitats”

THE BIG ISSUE

Big companies like these must start to take responsibility for their role in pollution. New alternatives such as offering refills in multi-use containers by paying an up-front deposit. This idea can drastically cut down on litter and offer a better way of recycling.

The biggest litter pickup group ever arranged by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) had over 4000 volunteers covering over 11,000 miles. They collected a recorded number of nearly 10,000 branded pieces of pollution that were linked to 328 companies. People were shocked at the amount of pollution coming from best-known brands and became disappointed at their lack of attention to the problem. A representative for Coca-Cola said,

“It’s disappointing to see any packaging being littered and that’s why we support the introduction of a well-designed deposit return scheme, which would encourage people to recycle rather than litter or throw away. “

This issue isn’t just happening in the UK, this issue is damaging our oceans all around the world. Organizations like SAS and FoLAR have done a great job of organizing pick-up groups to help clean our environment and bring awareness to this worldwide dilemma. Big companies must be held accountable for their actions and now start to make a change by putting in the work.

I believe that these changes cannot be held up any more and must be be controlled. Through new laws, we can establish rules that can further prevent new plastic from entering the ocean.

International Conference on Ocean Plastic Pollution Prevention and Management

This month, the International Conference has arranged a meeting where scientists and researchers from all around the world come to give presentations on plastic prevention. This event allows scholars to display their ideas on plastic pollution and help come up with ways to protect our oceans. The International Conference has a goal of:

“bringing together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Ocean Plastic Pollution Prevention and Management.”

International Conference on Ocean Plastic Pollution Prevention and Management

I think this is a great idea because it gives people from all around the world a chance to voice their opinions and provide well thought out plans on plastic prevention. In June, a similar event was held at UC San Diego where participants engaged in a series of virtual short courses, team-based research, and a final two-day challenge to pitch solutions to an expert panel. I participated in watching a few of these events and I learned a lot from some of the ideas they had created.

I am looking forward to seeing the ideas that will be presented at this event and the many outcomes that will benefit from it.

Reusing Your Plastic At Ban SUP Refill: My Experience

This weekend, I was invited to an event at Ban SUP Refill in Pasadena, California where people gathered to celebrate the one year anniversary of the store. Ban SUP Refill is a store where they offer sustainable and affordable products that helps shoppers reduce plastic waste. Their website states:

“Our passion for reducing and eliminating plastic waste has created the vision for this store and each of the products”

Ban SUP Refill

They sell goods such as soaps, organic foods, and reusable bottles. From selling these items, their company has eliminated over 1.1 million total plastics that could have been hurting our ocean and marine life.

One thing that I liked about their products is their design and material. One in particular, was their Bamboo Insulated mugs. These reusable plastic alternatives are unique and give them a one of a kind feeling. Unlike most reusable plastic alternative products, this one has a beautiful design of a bee on the front. You can check it out from their website here: https://www.bansuprefill.com/product/bamboo-insulated-mug/31?cp=true&sa=false&sbp=false&q=false&category_id=9

This was my first time going to an event like this. I was very happy to experience it and gained a lot from the event . Being a high-schooler and the youngest person there, I was excited to show that the youth cares about these issues and want to make a difference. I look forward to continuing with these events and doing everything I can to impact our oceans and make them a cleaner and safer place.

Please be sure to check out their website at www.bansuprefill.com and look around at their selection of goods to stop more plastic from entering our ocean.

Reports Say We Have 29 Years To Save The Ocean

Research says that our oceans are in desperate need of saving. An article published by Salon states that,

“the world needs to implement drastic measures to make sure no new plastic enters the ocean as of 2050, which is a major goal of 19 countries and the European Union.”

Salon

The plastic issue at hand has continued to challenge our world for many years and must be addressed soon. While the problem of plastics filling up our oceans is detrimental to our environments, marine animals are also impacted everyday from plastic pollution. Whether its sharks with stomachs full of plastic bags, or turtles with straws in their noses, these issues won’t end till something is done. The World Economic Forum even states that plastic pollution will outnumber the amount of fish in the ocean by 2050 if solutions aren’t deployed. An article endorsed by the UN provides solutions that consist of:

“reduce growth in plastic consumption,” “substitute plastics with suitable alternative materials,” “design products and packaging for recycling,” “expand waste collection rates in the Global South,” “increase mechanical recycling capacity globally,” “scale up global capacity of chemical conversion,” “build safe waste disposal facilities” and “reduce plastic waste exports.”

Changes like these have started to happen in many common places such as restaurants, stores, and supermarkets. Plastic producers must begin to take responsibility for their effects on our environment and it all starts with these solutions.

I believe that these eight solutions should be implemented in countries all around the world to put an end to this issue. Some of you may have noticed these being used today in our everyday lives. By taking action and helping little by little, these changes will drastically change our oceans and marine ecosystems for the better.

Help Clean The River

On Saturday July 24, FoLAR is hosting an in-person cleanup for collecting trash at the LA River. This event is to help prevent waste from polluting our oceans and urban ecosystems. It starts at 8:00am and goes until 4:00pm. You can register for free online at www.eventbrite.com and for limited time, they are sending “Cleanup Starter Kits” to registered volunteers on a “first come, first-serve basis.” Over the past 30 years, FoLAR has worked to restore habitats and keep our River clean. Their goal is to “ensure an equitable, publicly accessible, and ecologically sustainable Los Angeles River by inspiring River stewardship through community engagement, education, advocacy, and thought leadership.” This organization has helped our communities for a very long time and I believe that it is our turn to help and join them on their mission to keep our oceans and rivers clean.

Register at www.eventbrite.com to support our rivers!

USA’s Surf Team joins Wyland Foundation For Healthier Oceans

This month USA’s first-ever surf team has partnered with Wyland Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving our oceans and marine life. This year marks the 10th year anniversary of Wyland Foundation promoting ocean conservancy. Their website currently has a limited time clothing and accessories that help promote the USA Surfing and Wyland Foundation. In an article by MauiNow they interview a Hawaii surfer named Carissa Moore who joined the foundation to encourage ocean conservation. She talks about past memories of her childhood at the beach, “When I was little, I would pick up three pieces of trash every time I went to the beach.” She followed by saying, “Just imagine if we all did that? What a huge difference that would make.” I highly agree with Carissa, if everyone could do their best to pick up three or more pieces of trash every time they went to the beach we could drastically cut down pollution.

Has Pollution Hit a Point of No Return?

As time goes by, plastic continues to grow and pollute our planet. Research from 2016 estimates that rivers and oceans collect up to 9 to 23 million metric tons of trash per year. If this information has stayed consistent, then that means that there could be around 45 to 115 million metric tons of waste built up over the past five years. That is absolutely mind blowing, and researchers predict that it will double by 2025. In a new post by Science Daily states,

“Current rates of plastic emissions globally may trigger effects that we will not be able to reverse, argues a new study by researchers from Sweden, Norway and Germany published on July 2nd in Science.”

This is scary because if more people do not start adding to the change by cleaning up our environment, then the world could be in serious danger. I am thankful to see more companies adding new divisions towards cleaning up oceans and countries while also giving people jobs. For the future, we can only hope that more people become aware of this growing problem and choose to make a difference.

My Experience in Costa Rica

This past week, I was able to take a trip to Costa Rica with one of my close friends. While I was there, I learned a lot of new things and saw very beautiful places. One thing that I learned is that they are the first country to ban single-use plastics. At every restaurant, they would always serve your drink with a paper straw on the side. Whenever I would ask for a to-go box, it would always be a paper container. A quote from Rubicon states,

“But according to Ocean Conservancy’s 2017 Coastal Cleanup Report, straws and stirrers make up just 3 percent of the total trash found on beaches. And Bloomberg News estimates that on a global scale, straws would probably only account for 0.03 percent of total plastic waste by mass.”

https://www.rubicon.com/blog/paper-straws-better-environment/

I hope to see more restaurants in California transition to paper-made utensils and packaging in the future.

While on the beaches, I found very few pieces of trash and was well maintained. At exit areas, you could find multiple recycle bins for specific items.