Every year, nearly 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans, a number that is expected to increase tenfold by 2025. And, according to the World Economic Forum, if we keep producing plastic at predicted rates and continue to improperly dispose of it, the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans will outweigh total fish abundance by 2050. It is a pervasive problem that is impacting marine life, human health, and the global economy, and our reliance on single-use plastics means increased carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas linked to climate change.
Approximately 80 percent of plastic pollution comes from land-based sources. The bottles we drink from, the bags we use to carry our groceries, and the packaging contained in our online shipments all contribute to this growing problem. Once introduced into the marine ecosystem, the plastics degrade slowly, leaching toxic chemicals into the water. In addition, marine species often ingest smaller particles, which biomagnify up the food chain and eventually end up on our own plates.
To combat this growing threat, we must take action to reduce point-source pollutants, which can be achieved through improved waste-management infrastructure, increased recycling efforts, and by simply reducing our reliance on single-use plastic products. Surfrider Foundation, an LDF grantee and a national leader in grassroots communication, law, and policy about the health and protection of the ocean, has been working at state and federal levels to strengthen legislation regarding ocean debris.
In California, Surfrider has been instrumental in developing the “Clean Seas Coalition” that has successfully passed state policy and enacted state regulations on marine litter and passed hallmark legislation like the statewide single-use plastic bag ban. Surfrider has also been developing a suite of climate change protection programs that focus on education, advocacy, coastal planning and mitigation, and has helped develop the Ocean Protection Council’s Ocean Litter Strategy, which will likely be implemented in the coming months.
Surfrider Foundation works nationwide to protect our oceans, beaches, and waves, and LDF is proud to support their efforts in protecting our oceans from plastic pollution.