Beaches around the world are full of plastic waste. In working to raise awareness around plastic waste, people are hosting community cleanups to trace plastic waste back to its source and hold companies accountable.
(Greenpeace, by Alice Kurima Newberry) This month, Greenpeace USA partnered with Surfrider Foundation and local community members to conduct day-long beach clean-ups and audit plastic waste. We started in the Rockaways, a peninsula located within New York City once ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Through the community clean-up and plastics audit, we worked to figure out which companies are more responsible for the most plastic waste on our Atlantic coast beaches. Like all beaches around the world, the Rockaways is polluted with single-use plastic — lots of it.
Plastic pollution is a growing threat, choking our oceans and marine life. Plastic often comes with a range of toxic chemical additives which can now be found in marine and human life. Microplastics are floating in waters everywhere. Consumers need to demand an alternative to plastic as companies continue to increase production and as more and more plastic end up in our precious oceans.
By conducting research that will determine which companies are accountable for producing the most plastic waste, Greenpeace is able to pressure polluting companies in a large-scale effort to back off from the production of single-use plastic, which has never been done before.
Greenpeace has been working on auditing single-use plastics in the Philippines and working on building community power through launching its plastic clean-up and brand audit action toolkit so that communities throughout the U.S. and globally can start cataloging which companies to target for alternative plastic use.
At the Rockaways clean-up, New Yorkers traveled all the way from Yonkers, the Bronx and neighborhoods near and far to join in the clean-up. Altogether, we picked up trash and sorted out all of the straws, plastic bottles, and other single-use plastics (before properly recycling and disposing of this litter, of course!). Altogether, we gathered data for 1178 pieces of plastic within two hours of collecting.
Activists in New York are working to ban the use of plastic bags, following in the footsteps of cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago. These bans are an important first step toward curbing plastic waste in our oceans, and we need to do even more. According to Plastic Oceans, we produce roughly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use. One ton of plastic enters our oceans every single minute.
We not only need to work on holding ourselves and community accountable, we need to hold corporations accountable as they continue to profit off of killing our planet.
Together we can hold corporations accountable and break free from plastics.