Beyond Beach Cleanup: Rockin’ Resolutions

ocean-viewNew Year’s is a time when we resolve to eat better, embrace good health and savor life. Personal goals are written and we are filled with positive expectation. Maybe you have considered habits that are harmful to our magnificent planet among your resolution process. Let’s hope so.

No matter how many beach cleanups we all do, until we cleanup some habits, significant change will not happen. Keep on with your practice of loving and respecting the natural environment by picking up litter and refusing straws. Talk about what you do and why – conversations inspire change.

If you are on social media – you can help spread the word by using the hashtag #HabitCleanup. Everyone can join that mission by some positive action each day. Here are a few simple suggestions and tips to create less trash and fewer carbon emissions over the next 12 months.

Preaching to the Choir: You Know the Drill

Over one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute around the world. Nearly 80 per cent of these end up in our landfills and oceans. Once this fact gets beyond your head and into your heart, trust me, you feel a pang of pain seeing cases of plastic bottles stacked in stores and heading home with shoppers.

Convenience has become an expectation and fuels habits negative to our planet. Your diligence – daily – makes a difference. But more than that, when you talk about your choices and why it’s worth the effort – you motivate, inspire and help others make habit changes. #HabitCleanup.

Reduce and reuse, before recycling

bljk-new-coverPeople tend to feel good about themselves when they recycle, but often it’s forgotten that recycling should be a last resort. There is no “away” when it comes to plastic. Living a sustainable lifestyle is not an all or nothing approach. And by sharing your efforts you expand your personal carbon-minimal footprint. Take what steps you can in 2019 and share them – in a positive, uplifting way that celebrates sustainability. #HabitCleanup for 2019.

To inspire the young people in your life and to give them hope for their future, you can gift them a BLUE LIFE JOURNAL FOR KIDS. Learn more here. 

Next Generation Ocean Stewards!

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 seem that turning off (or turning down) our own little tap is almost meaningless.

This is absolutely NOT the case, and we all know it in our heart.

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Cover Art by Liz Cunningham, author of Ocean Country – Copyright 2018

The habit of writing about intention, gratitude and actions is a powerful practice. We can make a “blue life” choice and write about it in our Blue Life Journal. We can then share our commitment and action 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, but thank goodness 5 Gyres IS!

We may not be measuring plastic across the oceans of the world and creating a network of innovators who can re-design materials, but thank goodness Cyrill Gutsch and Parley for the Oceans is.

Do not underestimate individual action repeated consistently. 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.

The time is NOW to engage
the future stewards of the ocean in the process.

The optimism, perspective and ideas of youth are exactly what we all need. For that reason, we offer a Blue Life Curriculum to teachers in grades 4-8 at NO CHARGE. It includes: kids_nature

  • Comprehensive Teacher handbook
  • All slide decks (with online video)
  • List of each You Tube video for ease in obtaining “green light” for use in the classroom
  • Scripts for each slide deck (PDF)
  • Worksheets for each slide deck (Google Forms and PDF)
  • PDF (printable) copies of the Blue Life Journal for Kids
  • Explanation and Alignment to standards (Technology, writing, character education, environment, STEM careers, Service Learning)
  • Access to additional/optional activities
  • Resources and Supplemental Materials for expanding as interest dictates

If you are interested in learning more, fill out the form on our CONTACT page. If you already have a program that includes journal writing, character education, environmental studies, a “green” club or a focus on STEM careers, you will love the Blue Life Curriculum. 

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

The Voice of Youth: Saving Our Oceans

india-plastic2We recently wrote about a group of middle schoolers in India who sent 20,000 plastic wrappers back to the manufacturer asking them to change the packaging to keep plastic out of the environment and the ocean.

That was a powerful story and one that solidly reinforces the premise behind the Blue Life Journal Curriculum (Grades 4-8) we created for teachers. (Available at no cost for the 2018-2019 school year) When young people are given a tool, like the Blue Life Journal for Kids, and engaging stories demonstrating hope, innovation, imagination, invention and connection as a solution path vs the enormous challenge of plastic – the future looks bright.

We recently read an article about an expedition partially sponsored by Starboard, Eat Less Plastic. This expedition which will sail to remote parts of the globe and sift small “microplastics” from the ocean will spend five months sailing the South Pacific. They will go to  areas that have never been tested for microplastics and other marine debris.

The mission is funded through Love The Sea, a Hawaii-based non-profit run by Campbell Farrell—himself an accomplished big-wave surfer as well as paddleboard racer. Originally from New Zealand.  The Ultimate Waterman, Starboard Dream Team athlete and co-author of the Blue Life Journal, Zane Schweitzer, is throwing his support behind the journey as one of its ambassadors. The message shared by expeditions of this type are loud and clear – we need to re-design plastic and stop the flow at the source, with manufacturing.Eat-Less-Plastic-An-Epic-4-month-Voyage-Across-The-Southern-Pacific-Ocean-2

When it comes to coastal cleanups Campbell Farrell, a surfer, ECO/Ocean advocate, Starboard Ambassador and businessman says that “beverage containers and straws get a lot of flak, but when you go and do a beach cleanup, every industry I can think of, whether it’s automotive, sporting, fashion, of toothbrushes, is showing up on the beaches every day. The entire world and every industry needs to stop and take a look at their consumption of plastics. It’s going to take big commercial players to step up.”

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Starboard’s Svein Rasmussen walks the talk – with gusto!

Manufacturers with philosophies like Starboard and their “Starboard Blue” commitment can lead the way. Leaders and those in the role of CEO, like Starboard’s Svein Rasmussen, are working hard to share the message. But there are endless more manufacturers who need to really HEAR the message. Sometimes it just takes the collective voice of youth – the future stewards of our planet. We are certain that when teachers share our Blue Life Curriculum with their students that the students will take up the cause through their optimism, idealism, hope for the future and fresh perspective.

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.

 

 

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.

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!

Simple Life Hack: Your Reusable Bottle

I actually get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I see people leaving the “big box” or grocery store with a plastic wrapped case of water in 24 or more plastic bottles. SERIOUSLY? Unless local water is unavailable or contaminated – why?????

There are so many BPA free and stainless reusable water bottle options. Can there be a more simple way to eliminate one of the most prevalent plastic polluters around?

plastic-bottle-pollution-20473936You may already practice this simple habit of bringing your own water bottle. Do the Ocean a favor and share this with friends who might not realize the following information. The Ocean, our voiceless friend, will be forever grateful.
This is from the RecycleBank website (FOLLOW on Twitter @RecycleBank) for endless great information)

Bottled Water vs. The Environment

Bottled water contributes to physical waste.

With bottled water, you get an enormous amount of, well, bottles. And for the last couple of years, the amount of plastic bottles being recycled keeps falling, which means more plastic bottles are going to the landfill — or the ocean, where they are damaging marine ecosystems — and represent a waste of the resources that went into making the bottle. Speaking of…

It takes more water to make a plastic bottle of water than goes in the bottle.

Yes. For example, Coca-Cola told Mother Jones in 2014 that it used 1.63 liters of water to produce every liter of water bottled. That’s quite a waste of water!

Now here’s a little tidbit to top it all off: A not insignificant amount of bottled water is just bottled municipal water anyway … AKA the same water you get from your tap.1

Ready to switch yet? We promise it doesn’t have to be hard. You can get filters for your tap water so you can feel more confident in the quality of the water from your sink, and then use glasses and reusable bottles (bonus: reusable bottles with measurements on them are a good way to make sure you’re drinking enough water each day!). Reusable bottles are the solution if you’re out running errands, too. It’s even possible to host a party without using bottled water — just fill up a few pitchers of water and dole out reusable cups. You can do it!

SOURCES: 1 NRDC, Mayo Clinic, Healthline, Food & Water Watch, Resource Recycling