Los Angeles Chapter

Rise Above Plastics

PLASTIC—IT’S ALL AROUND US.

It’s in our homes, our offices, our vehicles, our yards, our playgrounds. We use it to package food, bottle products, bag produce, make dinnerware and utensils, make toys, you name it and the chances are it has been altered, affected, or made possible by plastic.

Plastics have undoubtedly helped us to manufacture, package and ship goods more easily, for less money, and in some cases more safely than ever before.

But plastics pose a significant threat to our planet as well.

Part of the problem is plastic itself. The very qualities that make it an adaptable and durable product to use, also make plastic an environmental nightmare. You see, plastics do not biodegrade. Instead, they photodegrade – breaking down under exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, into smaller and smaller pieces.

Bottom line: with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated, virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form. Single-use plastics are littering our beaches, streams, waterways and polluting our oceans around the globe.

Rise Above Plastics is designed to eliminate the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics.

Using a combination of online tools, classroom, and beach education, the Surfrider LA Chapter developed the Rise Above Plastics Speaker Program which offers training courses for the passionate activist that want to combat plastic pollution in their communities.

Arming RAP Speakers with the knowledge and resources necessary to teach their communities about the impact of plastic pollution, we hope to spread the simple solutions each person can take to address this global crisis with an eye on turning the tide.

SOBERING FACTS ON PLASTIC
  • If plastic production is’t curbed, plastic pollution in the marine environment will outweigh fish pound for pound by 2050.
  • The amount of plastic produced from 2000 – 2010 exceeds the amount produced during the entire last century.
  • Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.
  • An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine litter.[3]
  • Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.[4]
  • Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.[5]
  • In 2009 about 3.8 million tons of waste plastic “bags, sacks and wraps” were generated in the United States, but only 9.4% of this total was recycled.[6]
  • Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead break down into small particles that persist in the ocean, absorb toxins, and enter our food chain through fish, sea birds and other marine life.[7]
  • Plastic bags are problematic in the litter stream because they float easily in the air and water, traveling long distances and never fully breaking down in water.
  • Cleanup of plastic bags is costly. California spends $25 million annually to landfill discarded plastic bags, and public agencies spend more than $300 million annually in litter cleanup.[8]
  • It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the country.