Choking the Ocean with Plastics

I was fortunate enough to get some surfing in during this last weekend’s rare summer swell. It is comforting to know that the long summer lulls are almost behind us and the more regular fall swells will be rolling in soon. But, it was disconcerting to see the usual abundance of plastic waste along the beach as I made my way into the water.

Then, on Monday, a NY Times op-ed article entitled “Choking the Oceans with Plastics” circulated around our office e-mail. In sum, the article discussed the growing mass of plastics accumulating in our oceans. But, critically, the article did not stop there. Instead, the author focuses on our ever-increasing reliance on plastics. He points out that, while states like California have installed structural controls such as gutter covers and catch basins to reduce the amount of debris flowing down rivers to the sea, our reliance on plastics continues to present an immense problem for our ecosystem.

I’ll let you read the rest of the article yourself. But I think it is a great reminder for all of us to be cognizant of our consumer habits. Plastic items are often cheaper, but how regularly do we end up replacing them or just throwing them away? Where is all that plastic going? Fortunately, we can all do our part to help address plastic pollution. Here are a few quick tips for reducing your plastic footprint:

1. Carry a reusable water bottle
2. Keep a coffee mug around the office and in your car
3. Buy a set of bamboo or other reusable utensils to keep in your purse or backpack
4. Always remember your reusable bags for the store or just carry those few items in your hands
5. Buy that glass bottle instead of the plastic one
6. Eat more bulk foods and produce (and bring your own bulk/produce bags)
7. Help end our throwaway culture by buying more durable goods, buying used, and buying less

Also, Los Angeles Waterkeeper is always looking for volunteers to help with our campaign to address plastic pollution here in the Los Angeles region. Just a couple weeks ago, I joined Lara and a great group of volunteers for a nurdle (pre-production plastic pellets) monitoring and beach cleanup at Dockweiler Beach.  Learn more about these volunteer opportunities here.

-Jeffrey Van Name, Law Fellow

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