As part of its Rise Above Plastics campaign, the Coalition is working to educate people about the dangers of plastic marine debris and reduce the proliferation of single-use plastics. According to the EPA, “Each year millions of seabirds, sea turtles, fish, and marine mammals become entangled in marine debris or ingest plastics which they have mistaken for food.” Just recently, seven whales died on the coast of Italy, and the autopsy revealed that they had choked on plastic bags. Hawaii is a breeding ground for migrating whales, and they need to be protected in our marine sanctuaries. Plastic marine debris is not only harmful to marine life, but it also poses a human health hazard. Because these petroleum-based products never biodegrade but only break into smaller pieces, these micro-plastics attract toxic chemicals that are then consumed by fish and other sea creatures and make their way into the food chain.
The Rise Above Plastics Coalition is supporting legislation to reduce the amount of plastic pollution in Hawaii through a statewide ban (SB2559) or a small fee (HB2125) on single-use plastic bags. As part of the press conference and rally, we will be visiting the legislators and talking to them about these bills and the benefits of switching to reusable tote bags and metal canteens. In Ireland, the government imposed a $.20 fee on plastic bags, and their use declined by 90% within one year! The fee bill has many benefits because it will: 1. Bring in needed revenue for the state; 2. Change people’s buying habits; 3. Save stores from buying so many wasteful bags; 4. Help the counties cut costs in having to clean up these toxic tumbleweeds; 5. Extend the life of our landfills; and 6. Make Hawaii a more beautiful place to live.
The public is invited to visit the program’s website, www.riseaboveplastics.org, where they can learn about how plastics impact our marine and coastal environments and how they can take steps to reduce their own plastic “footprint.” With 50,000 members, the Surfrider Foundation has over 70 chapters across the world and four in Hawaii. The Hawaii Chapters are working on issues of beach access, water quality, coastal preservation and plastic marine debris. For more information, go to www.surfrider.org/oahu.