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From Promise to Action: Surfrider Foundation’s Efforts to Mitigate Marine Plastic Pollution

Surfrider Foundation recently hosted a webinar conference on February 15, 2022 to discuss their efforts in reducing marine plastic pollution in the state of Oregon. Headquartered in San Clemente, California, Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our oceans, and has a large activist and volunteer network throughout the United States (Surfrider Foundation, n.d.). Brianna Goodwin, a field manager for Surfrider Oregon, gave an informative presentation on the current state of marine plastic pollution in Oregon, and what the organization is doing to mitigate this issue.


Marine plastic pollution is an issue that has been sustained over the past few decades due to the widespread usage and demand for single-use plastics. Over 8 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans every year, and the rate of production outweighs our ability to effectively deal with plastic waste. A variety of factors are to blame; restaurants, for instance, generally utilize single-use plastic cutlery for takeout which ends up in waterways that lead directly to our oceans. But the most pressing issue is the fact that plastic is produced from fossil fuels and is the product of the oil and gas industry (Hodges, 2018). Industry trends have made the nation’s production of plastics extremely cost-effective due to the abundance and affordability of natural gas, which has substantially increased the rate of plastic manufacturing and exacerbates marine plastic pollution (Hodges, 2018). This is a systemic issue, which makes the fight against marine plastic pollution all the more significant.


According to Goodwin, Surfrider Oregon has taken a variety of measures to combat marine plastic pollution at the local level. A nationwide program, Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants (OFR) initiative is currently underway in Oregon, seeking to stop plastics from accumulating in the environment in the first place (Surfrider Foundation, n.d.). In order to be certified as an ocean-friendly restaurant, businesses must meet certain criteria that help them work toward becoming plastic-free. For more information on Surfrider’s mandatory and optional criteria, you can take a look at Surfrider’s ocean-friendly restaurant criteria.


On the state level, Surfrider Oregon is currently working with the state to update Oregon’s food safety code to allow for more sustainable options in grocery stores. The current code does not support the usage of reusable bags and to-go containers, so the organization is collaborating with Oregon’s Food Safety Advisory Committee to make changes to the code, and help businesses mitigate their plastic footprint (Surfrider Foundation, 2019). Surfrider Oregon has also been at the forefront of policy initiatives, including the organization’s Sustainable Shopping Campaign, which paved the way for Oregon’s Sustainable Shopping Initiative. The organization has also publicly supported the Oregon Plastic Bag Ban (Surfrider Foundation, 2019).


Similar to Surfrider Foundation, Seaside Sustainability has taken many initiatives to mitigate marine plastic pollution on state and local levels. Large-scale solutions are important for extensive change, but it is ultimately the work of such organizations throughout the nation that increases widespread public awareness and engagement regarding this issue. On the individual level, you can decrease your plastic footprint simply by using reusable items whenever possible. Small actions such as these can make the biggest difference. You can check out our Plastics Quizzes to learn more about reducing your plastic footprint.



References

Surfrider Foundation. (2019, June 17). Ban the bag oregon! Retrieved February 25, 2022, from

https://www.surfrider.org/campaigns/ban-the-bag-or-hb-2509


Surfrider Foundation. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved February 25, 2022, from https://www.surfrider.org/


Surfrider Foundation. (n.d.). Ocean Friendly Restaurants. Retrieved February 25, 2022, from

https://www.surfrider.org/programs/ocean-friendly-restaurants#section_11


Surfrider Foundation. (2019, June 11). Oregon passes Comprehensive Statewide Plastic Bag

Ban. Retrieved February 25, 2022, from https://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/oregon-passes-strongest-plastic-bag-ban-in-the-country


Hodges, T. (2018, May 8). The link between fossil fuels, single-use plastics, and climate change.


Surfrider Foundation. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/the-link-between-fossil-fuels-single-use-plastics-and-climate-change


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