Plastic Litter: Are We Really the Culprits?

india-plastic1Visit any school cafeteria on any given day and look around at the plastic wrappers for snacks, juice boxes, cookies, single serve lunch kits and other items. Most of those wrappers end up in the trash and most, if not all, cannot be recycled. Even the most “green” teacher or student has little choice in this scenario.

Students from one middle school in the port city of Thoothukudi (India) collected more than 20,000 packaged food wrappers in less than two weeks, sorted them out and mailed them back to the companies who manufactured them. City councilors in India are encouraging school children to round up packaging of this sort and mail it back to the manufacturers. Think of all the “blue life” lessons that could be embedded into an activity like this is any school.

More than 10,ooo of the wrappers came from a company called Britannia (owned primarily by Nabisco) which makes biscuits, bread and cakes.

Along with the wrappers, the students sent a letter: india-plastic2

“We are happy with the taste and quality of your products, but unhappy with the plastic packaging. We want to ensure a safe environment for our future generations and minimize our plastic footprint. We have decided to collect used plastic wrappers of your products and send them to you for safe disposal. Please help us savor your products without guilt, by introducing eco-friendly packaging.”

We are 100% sure we will be creating a segment of the Blue Life Curriculum (Grades 4-8) that will include options for similar activities along with engagement with city officials. Inspire younger generations with a desire for change and they’ll forge ahead. They have an optimistic views and are idealistic enough to TRY! So important.

What do you think? The more pressure that is placed on companies to handle their own waste, as opposed to consumers, the sooner we’ll see deposit strategies and bulk stores that allow reusable containers appearing in our cities.

This type of awareness and waste-collection project will affect the students’ own long-term lifestyle habits. It’s a unique project that most kids will consider important – and even fun. Most likely they will talk to their families and influence wider-reaching habit shifts. That’s our hope for all the “blue life” tribe.

To any teachers out there, if you want to receive our Blue Life Curriculum (Grades 4-8) at no cost, or learn more about its full resources and alignment to standards, just CONTACT us.

 

 

Back to School: Blue Life Stewards

People ask, “Why do you give away your Blue Life Curriculum (grades 4-8) to teachers and students – no charge?”

Here’s one reason why: “In school, children learn to be citizens. As we face climate change, disparities between rich and poor, and complicated questions about ever-more-powerful technology, we need citizens who care about community and can speak different truths.”EnviroKidsGallery07-itok=ENKYip0m

The above is a quote from the book Family Business by Malinda Chouinard and Jennifer Ridgeway

There are children all over the world being given the valuable opportunity to practice journal writing. Our thought is this: If young people are given a chance to reflect on gratitude, creating an amazing day and writing their intention to make a “blue life – good for the ocean and environment” choice every day, they will learn to be aware and proactive citizens that can save our ocean.

The second part of the Blue Life Curriculum is a series of engaging slide decks including powerful video, scripted discussion cues for the teacher and digital worksheets (no paper needed).  These resources reinforce ideas, demonstrate the power of individuals to make a difference and are geared to inspire young people to innovate and invent.

That’s our donation to our future. CONTACT us for more information.

What’s a “Blue Life” Choice: Sustainability Rocks

We recently came across a comprehensive article (July 28, 2018) written by Trammell S. Crow for the Dallas Morning News. Trammell is the heart and soul behind the far-reaching and hugely successful EarthX held each spring in Dallas. The commentary talks about how our awareness of the negative impact of plastic straws might lead us to more broad-reaching change of habits and attitudes that could protect the world’s oceans.

Best of all, he outlined a six-point plan that provides each of us with actions and choices we can begin to adopt right now. The more we know about choices, the more creative, innovative and inspired our daily entries in our Blue Life Journal can become.

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Your “blue life” choices can generate sustainability

Here’s the list from Trammell’s commentary:

“Together with environmental sustainability nonprofits EarthX and Future 500, these leaders developed a six-point plan to protect the world’s oceans. Cutting plastic pollution was high on that list, but we didn’t stop there.

We detailed six ways consumers and corporations could combine their buying power in order to get to the root causes of ocean destruction.

Government can help, but consumers have the real power, if we learn to use it. We can save the oceans by only supporting brands and companies that:

• Shift to clean-burning fuels on cargo and cruise ships.

• Offer only sustainable seafood, never from illegal or untraceable sources.

• Avoid minerals, oil and gas mined in ways that threaten fisheries, reefs and complex marine ecosystems.

• Buy plastic products only from providers who join a comprehensive global system to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics, and prevent marine debris from entering the ocean, especially in nations that don’t have recycling infrastructures.

• Buy meat and produce only from farms and ranches that strictly reduce chemical runoff — the chief cause of ocean dead zones that kill fisheries and hurt people whose livelihoods depend on them.

• Commit to corporate and public policies that will drive down ocean acidification and coral reef death, which threaten our food supply and, ultimately, survival.

By the way, the actions that reduce acidification and coral destruction, which are not under debate, are the same that protect the climate, a problem that some still deny.

Those six steps are all within reach. Responsible business executives, consumers and political leaders I know from both parties agree they are necessary.

But they won’t happen until citizens organize across party lines and aim for systemic solutions that are bigger than just a ban on straws.

That requires we step past our polarized political system. Polls show that 70 percent of Americans, on the right and left, can find solutions on almost any issue if we just talk with one another.

Saying no to straws is a first step; it is tangible, easy and helps start a conversation.

Let’s keep talking and find collaborative solutions that can stem the tide of ocean destruction.”

And let’s keep our daily practice of writing in our Blue Life Journal going strong – sharing that experience with others. Connect with us by sharing your ideas and stories HERE.

Humans vs Microplastics: Expeditions and Heroes

zane-mangroveEvery day we can find our Ocean Advocate and “Blue Life” heroes and heroines sharing their passion and stories online. Sometimes their adventures and journeys seem so large and amazing that we might sit back in awe – and wonder, “What could I possibly do to make in difference in a problem so huge as micro-plastics in the ocean?” (Meet Blue Life Journal co-author Zane Schweitzer making a personal difference each day – featured image)

For example, in collaboration with Parley and supported by TOMRA recycling, the pioneering all-female crew of “eXXpedition North Pacific” recently set sail from Honolulu, Hawaii, on a scientific research mission led by award-winning British skipper, Parley collaborator and ocean advocate, Emily Penn. The voyage will investigate solutions to the devastating impacts of plastic and related toxic pollutants in the world’s oceans, and bring global awareness to three “unseens”: women in science; pollution in our oceans and bodies; and rises in disease, especially in young women. Exxxpedition-north-pacific4

Here’s another recent example from 5 Gyres, their 18th Expedition bringing citizen scientists (including Blue Life Journal co-author Zane Schweitzer) through Indonesia’s Corla Triangle from Bali to Komodo. They sampled microplastics and explored solutions to the problem of plastic pollution. Groups were lead by 5 Gyres Co-Founder and Research Director Marcus Eriksen and 5 Gyres Science Programs Director Carolynn Box.

Through their Asia Pacific Action Against Plastic Pollution program, 5 Gyres is collaborating with NGOs in Southeast Asia to highlight and scale zero-waste efforts in the region. Data collected on this Expedition will be incorporated into their global dataset of microplastics, used in the update of 5 Gyres’ Global Estimate of Marine Plastic Pollution study.

That expedition exemplifies 5 Gyres’ “science to solutions” model, leading to a better understanding of the global scope and trends related to ocean plastic pollution. It will help us monitor the efficacy of upstream solutions over time. ( Learn more about the NIX 6 – what WE can do)

Upstream solutions – WE are the upstream. WE are the ones who can (one by one) turn off our personal “plastics into the ocean” tap. When the gushing stream of plastics into the water, land and air is so huge it might seems that turning off (or turning down) our own little tap is almost meaningless.

blj-new-bright-coverThis is absolutely NOT the case, and we all know it in our heart. We make a “blue life” choice and write about it in our Blue Life Journal. We share it on our social media, we talk about it in conversation with a friend, we turn down our tap.

More importantly, we connect with others who begin to do the same. We may not be on an expedition in Indonesia, we may not be measuring plastic across the oceans of the world – but we are leading change where it will matter most. Our personal habits and choices will turn off the taps where it is need most – UPSTREAM from the plastic garbage patches killing our oceans. (Get your Blue Life Journal and start today)

Never think your choices are less important – remember that collectively we created the problem as a human member of the plastics dilemma. Together, we are the ones who will solve it.

Our mantra we hope you adopt with us: ONE + TOGETHER = HOPE.

 

 

ECO Innovation Hero: Svein Rasmussen – Starboard Blue

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Photo credit: Georgia S Photography

The more I learn about Starboard, the more I admire its founder, Svein Rasmussen.  His commitment to “blue life” choices goes far beyond the personal and influences everything involved in the corporate presence of Starboard. (excellent interview here) Svein shares this, “The oceans where we practice watersports regulate the climate and house 99% of the biosphere, controlling the weather and providing oxygen for every breath we take.” From planting mangroves, education the next generation of stewards to reducing plastic and carbon footprint in every aspect of Starboard’s processes, Svein innovates and inspires consistently.

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A hands-on leader living his passion while creating an amazing life

A title that matters to Svein is that of “Chief Innovator” and in that role his life is focused on drilling into every little part of the Starboard organization, trying to make it better. Svein explains, “Starboard is a product driven company so I spend most of my time driving the product development and environmental strategies together with our British product manager Ollie O’Reilly. We have been ahead of the curve in terms of shapes and technology and often create what we call 100% market share, meaning during the first year there simply is no similar product in the market.”

Innovation does not end with “first to market.” Svein hopes to make Starboard a truly influential company where short term profit comes second to creating a better tomorrow for all of us. He doesn’t keep his innovations in that area to himself. Rather, Svein is a global leader.

Recently (May 2018) Svein Rasmussen, shared some tough truths about plastic pollution in the ocean and in our lives with the members of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand — and encouraged them to take the lead in the industry change. His message was loud and clear as he encouraged others to join Starboard and pioneer the change to a more sustainable way to do business. After all, he posed this crucial question, “Do governments produce plastic? Do waste managers produce trash? Commerce produce plastic trash and is ultimately responsible.

Some suggestions offered are important steps that should be in discussion in every corporation and workplace –

  • Awareness.
  • Start with the office. No single-use plastics allowed at work.
  • Motivate and encourage your employees to be part of the movement.
  • Calculate your carbon emissions and plastic use, then reduce it.
  • Reinvent your business to reduce the overall waste and the dependence on primary materials and energy.
  • Start seeing the economic and social benefits.

It takes a village, it takes a team. Recognizing the work of others comes naturally for Svein. In discussing where Starboard has come Svein gives heartfelt thanks to people like Ollie O’Reilly for driving our awesome eco board projects and Starboard’s partners Parley, SUP Kids, Sustainable Surf, Watertrek and Arne Fjoertoft at the Thor Heyerdahl Mangrove Park

We can all recognize steps toward a solution that align with our area of influence and location. It might seem that planting a mangrove is a small thing, but when doen in cooperation with others the impact is powerful. Most of us are unaware of the impact of a mangrove. Here is why Svein cares so much, “Mangroves have a vital role in protection of lives and properties in vulnerable coastal communities from tsunamis and extreme weather. Mangroves increase sea food stocks up to 50% and have several important features that help curb climate change.”

Let’s be individually and collectively inspired by this visionary leader and waterman, Svein Rasmussen.
A video of a visionary

Corporations with a conscience and true commitment to saving our Oceans “walk the talk,” and that is not easy.

In addition to creating Gold Standard products, Starboard is involved with several initiatives to reduce their footprint and impact on the environment:

 Starboard is taking responsibility for its role in the plastic industry by offsetting their plastic footprint. This involves calculating exactly how much plastic goes into production and are now removing 48 metric tons of ocean plastic in 2018 to create a positive impact on the planet – instead of a negative one. For every board sold – Starboard collects 2 kg of ocean plastic. Starboard’s Plastic Offset Program funds local cleanups and puts a financial value on discarded plastic. 

Who can YOU talk to at work, among your social and SUP circles, within community organizations. Be the inspiration and innovation!