January 29, 2018 at 07:39:32 AM
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5 Gyres Institute, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Surfrider Foundation and
#breakfreefromplastic join forces to raise awareness about Styrofoam pollution
Venice, CA (September 16, 2017)—Today, environmental activist groups joined forces to fight the lack of legislation on plastic pollution during Coastal Cleanup Day. Through a collaboration by the 5 Gyres Institute, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Surfrider
Foundation and the #breakfreefromplastic movement, 90 volunteers collected over 110 pounds of trash left on beaches, of which only 15 pounds in total were recyclable. Debris collected during the two-hour clean up included single-use plastic food-ware products such as drinking straws, cups, lids, utensils and containers made from expanded polystyrene foam—the plastic commonly known as “Styrofoam.”
As part of the 5 Gyres initiative, volunteers sent 250 envelopes filled with found pieces of Styrofoam trash to 25 congressional representatives in Sacramento—where this year legislators voted against SB207, a statewide polystyrene ban.
A representative from the offices of California senator Bill Allen, author of the SB207 bill, was in attendance at the day’s event to support the environmental collaboration efforts. This movement is part of 5Gyres’ #foamfree Action Campaign to empower
volunteers to make their voices heard in the fight against Styrofoam pollution. In addition to mailing congressional offices, Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers are also tweeting photos of found trash to their Congressmen, encouraging California to finally go #foamfree.
Polystyrene is one of the most common form of plastic found on beaches worldwide. Made from styrene—a known animal carcinogen and probable human carcinogen—it was ranked the 5th worst global industry in terms of toxic waste production by the Environmental Protection Agency. Typically, it is not recyclable.
“Styrofoam is the top polluter on our beaches. We can’t stop with cleanup, we need to ban polystyrene and make California foam free,” said Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, Executive Director of 5 Gyres during the Saturday morning cleanup at Venice Beach.
While the 5 Gyres Institute, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Surfrider Foundation and the #breakfreefromplastic movement applaud beach clean up efforts, this collective action is designed to highlight the lack of emphasis that events like Coastal Cleanup Day have on upstream solutions. These include legislative responsibility to pass laws that protect the environment, consumer responsibility to refuse single-use plastics such as polystyrene cups, lids, and straws, and corporate responsibility to design products with end use in mind.
“Thanks to senator Ben Allen for starting the movement to ban polystyrene! So many people are fed up with Styrofoam on the beach and want it banned! Thanks for being #foamfree,” wrote Facebook user Marina Ivlev in response to a live video stream posted by the 5 Gyres Facebook page over the course of the morning.
The Venice Beach event was organized in conjunction with a September 16th clean up on Freedom Island in Manila Bay, coordinated by #breakfreefromplastic member groups and the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“We’ve been cleaning up brands on our beaches for 20 years,” said Abi Aguilar of Greenpeace Philippines, a #breakfreefromplastic member organization. “It’s time for corporates to take responsibility for the materials they put into the world. We must innovate delivery systems, eliminate single-use plastics, and insist that governments better regulate corporations that use plastic. This should be the last beach clean up.”
Celebrated annually for decades, Coastal Cleanup Day is the world’s largest simultaneous volunteer action to clean up the ocean.
Click here for photos from Coastal Cleanup Day 2017 in Venice, CA.(Photos courtesy of Haley Jain Haggerstone 5 Gyres Development Director)
Activists at other national and international beach cleanups can download #foamfree materials from 5 Gyres at www.5gyres.org/foamfree-action-guide and follow the same steps to connect with their legislators about polystyrene pollution.
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