Rise Above Plastics (RAP) program goal is to reduce 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. RAP focuses on increasing awareness on plastic pollution issues through education and outreach at events, and through all campaigns. On June 28, 2018, the District of Tofino passed a Motion to regulate single use plastics, and this has been made possible through the efforts of the RAP program! To read the Motion, click HERE.
Surfrider Pacific Rim RAP Goals Include:
- 100% Pacific Rim voluntary plastic straw free – Achieved by World Oceans Day 2018
- 80% voluntary plastic bag ban
- Plastic bag ban bylaw in place by April 2019
- All wetsuits recycled through our Wetsuit Reincarnation Program
- Plastic coffee cup reduction
- Plastic water bottle reduction and installation of water dispensers
- Waste management booths at all surf events
- Cigarette pollution decreased through the Hold On To Your Butt Campaign, which includes use of Surfrider canisters, as well as all cigarettes being recycled through Terracycle
- Registering 15 more businesses as “Ocean Friendly” through the Ocean Friendly Business Campaign by April 2019
- Data collection and analysis with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, NOAA and Surfrider HQ
- Collaboration with Ucluelet Aquarium to study microplastics and conduct microplastic sampling
- Delivery information about plastic pollution to students through the Youth Environmental Stewardship Program
- Making the entire Pacific Rim single use plastic free!
Surfrider Pacific Rim fully supports motion M151 to create a national strategy to combat plastic pollution. Our vision is to protect 100% of Canadian coastlines through positive action as well as community education and awareness through the Surfrider Rise Above Plastics Program (RAP).
RAP is just one official Surfrider program, and all of our campaigns and plastic initiatives are under it. We rely on the RAP Program, associated campaigns and volunteer efforts to create solutions for ocean friendly business practices and to mobilize behavioural changes that address society’s addiction to plastic. However, it’s not enough to rely on local business and grant providers to fund these volunteer led actions. We need the government to step up and be part of the movement that is already happening to eliminate single use plastics that are polluting our oceans, putting ecosystems at risk, and threatening food security. We are seeking legislation that would make businesses and industry accountable for sustainable practices that eliminate the use of single use plastics, deal with persistent forms of plastic pollution like microbeads and microfibres, and legislation that would increase accessible funding to the stakeholders of the ocean, and legislation to deal with existing marine debris pollution across Canada’s coastline – the longest coast in the world.
Rise Above Plastics Facts
- At least 5.25 trillion plastic particles are currently floating at sea.
- Producing plastic bottles for American consumption of bottled water requires 3 litres of water to produce each 1 litre of bottled water. Production of these water bottles also requires the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy for transportation.
- By 2025, for every three tons of finfish swimming in the oceans, there could be one ton of plastic in marine waters as well.
- Over 50% of plastic entering the ocean comes from just five developing countries where there is a lack of waste management capacity.
- Plastics are already negatively affecting over 660 marine wildlife species.
- An estimated 20 million tons of plastic litter enter the ocean each year.
- Plastic debris in the area popularly known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has increased by 100 times in the past 40 years.
- Of the approximately 700,000 tons of plastic “bags, sacks, and wraps” produced in the United States, less than 5% of this is recycled, according to the EPA.
- The amount of plastic produced from 2000 – 2010 exceeds the amount produced during the entire last century.
- Fish species that humans harvest have been known to eat micro-plastic particles and the toxins absorbed in those plastics transfer to the fish tissue.
Ten Ways To Rise Above Plastics
Here are ten easy things you can do to reduce your ‘plastic footprint’ and help keep plastics out of the marine environment:
- Choose to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water. Cloth bags and metal or glass reusable bottles are available locally at great prices.
- Refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other ‘disposable’ plastics. Carry reusable utensils in your purse, backpack or car to use at take-out restaurants.
- Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag/box that includes a thermos.
- Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants. A great way to reduce lids, plastic cups and/or plastic-lined cups.
- Go digital! No need for plastic cds, dvds and jewel cases when you can buy your music and videos online.
- Seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on.
Recycle. If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics. Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates.
- Volunteer at a beach cleanup! Surfrider Pacific Rim hold cleanups monthly or more frequently – check the calendar for the next beach clean event.
- Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans, straw bans!
- Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to Rise Above Plastics!
- Support local business that are part of Surfrider campaigns like Ban the Bag , Ocean Friendly business Campaign, Hold onto your Butt, and STRAWS SUCK.
Single use plastic items such as straws, plastic bags, and water bottles account for most of the plastic debris in our oceans. These single use items are incredibly damaging to the marine ecosystem because of their durability. They can take centuries to break down, creating very small bits of plastic (microplastics) that end of in the stomachs of many marine animals. Microplastics are even ingested by small filter feeders like pacific oysters, rock scallops, or porcelain crabs. Chemicals like PCBs, DDT, and PAHs leech from the plastic, which poisons the animals, and in turn poisons their meat. These toxins will bioaccumulate up the food chain, becoming more potent as the predator size increases. Human populations that depend on large fish and other species as a food source, subsequently ingest the toxins. Diseases like cancer, diabetes or infertility have been linked to these toxic foods. The Ucluelet Aquarium hopes to rid the west coast of these single use plastic items to help create a healthier marine ecosystem. This would not only benefit the animals that live within the ocean, but also benefit the human population that depend on it.
We are actively making changes, seeking alternatives to plastic items we use within the Aquarium, such as using biodegradable garbage bags, paper shopping bags, finding sustainable green alternatives to plastic retail items, and we hope other local businesses will follow suit.