This year may in fact be the most important one yet to seriously consider cutting back on plastic. COVID-19 caused a spike in single-use plastic foodware with increased takeout orders, and most PPE and disinfectants also contribute to the plastic problem. COVID-related concerns aside, there have been a number of recent reports outlining the ubiquitous nature of the problem. In short, plastic is everywhere.

Instead of asking, “where do we find plastic pollution on our planet?”, the better question to ask these days is, “where in the world don’t we find it?”. From the deepest part of the ocean in the Mariana Trench to some of the world’s tallest mountains, we’ve found plastic.

More recently, a team of researchers set out to study some of the most pristine and protected areas in the US – our national parks. The results were striking. The researchers found plastic in 98% of the 339 dust samples collected at 11 remote locations. They were able to estimate that at least 1,000 tons of microplastics are polluting our parks each year! But how is it getting there? This obscene amount of plastic is not just being left behind by visitors. Larger pieces are likely being swept up in nearby towns and cities by evaporating water and released into the parks with the rain and snow. Smaller pieces, on the other hand, could have traveled immense distances on wind currents high in our atmosphere to be deposited as part of the global dust transport. Much of this plastic is likely coming from our clothing, carpets, and other textiles.

  • Join your local Surfrider Chapter or Club’s cleanup efforts to help contribute important data to our online database.
  • Show your Ocean Friendly Restaurants some love.
  • Host or attend a virtual film screening with a solutions-focused Q&A.
  • Conduct a personal plastic audit and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
  • Check out Plastic Free July's website for more ideas and events around the world!

Read the full article about plastic pollution at Surfrider Foundation.