Plastic in the Ocean...


From under our noses and out of the blue, plastic has taken over the Sea.  The issue is much larger than it is possible to imagine or define.  Plastic now outnumbers plankton in the North Pacific Gyre 6 to 1 (source: Algalita Marine Research Foundation click here to watch the movie “Synthetic Seas”. ) Plastic bags outnumber seals, ducks, and pelicans combined 100 to 1 in the San Francisco Bay in California (source: Save SF Bay.org).  Click here to watch the animated video of The Bay vs. The Bag.

Surfers Without Borders is a Fiscally Sponsored Project of The Ocean Foundation

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Issues

The river through Esquintla, Guatemala.  Note man on right.

copyright 2011 Surfers Without Borders

site design by Loren Luyendyk and Aubrey Falk

Playa Champerico, Guatemala

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You can help reverse ocean pollution!

Plastic debris in the ocean is not only unsightly, it is harmful to marine life.  Birds, fish, and turtles consume the plastic because it resembles food.  A floating plastic bag looks just like a jellyfish, a sea turtles’ favorite food.  Albatross chicks on the remotest islands in the world are dying from starvation because their parents are feeding them lighters and plastic bottle tops. 


Plastic does not bio-degrade, it photo-degrades, that means it breaks into smaller and smaller pieces.  It breaks down to the point at which even plankton consume it, as it slowly sinks to the bottom.  Plankton are the basis of the food chain in the ocean, and therefore the planet.  Furthermore, plastic has a nasty characteristic of concentrating chemical pollutants.  When animals ingest the plastic, these chemicals enter their tissues and bio-accumulate up the food chain, ending up on our plates at super-concentrations.


Traveling through Central America, the story is no different.  Beaches are becoming more and more polluted with plastic trash from all over the world.  Furthermore, local trash collection is often unsatisfactory; it is usually voluntary or costs money.  Many cultures are unaware of the dangers of plastic in the environment, plastic is often considered to be the same as organic matter.  As a result, the rivers and the ocean become the dump.


The problem is just beginning.  The amount of plastic used daily is impossible to measure.  An estimated one trillion single use plastic bags are used globally every year.  Some estimates also say that even if the whole world stopped using plastic today, it would take three generations for it to stop washing up on our beaches.


What can we do?

There are solutions.  New technology is emerging to turn waste plastic into electricity or fuel.  We need to change our thinking about a disposable culture, and look at waste as an opportunity, as a resource.  We can solve two problems at once by utilizing plastic as a resource; we can reduce pollution and provide energy.  If plastic was worth money, there would not be one scrap left anywhere.   more solutions


SWoBs is working with local communities to educate about the impacts of plastic in the environment.  Our goal is to create educational programs for local school children and to work with local agencies on trash collection.  Furthermore, we want to create a project site to utilize the new technologies and use the waste plastic, instead of losing it to the ocean.


Your donation helps us to realize these goals.