Rise Above Plastics

Rise Above Plastic (RAP)

Great News – the Connecticut Chapter has received a generous grant from Patagonia to launch our local RAP program!

Project Information:

  • Signs will be placed in numerous local stores in key coastal towns in Connecticut. The store signs will have sayings such as: “Plankton not Plastic: Use Reusable Bags”, “Ocean Friendly Shopping: Use Reusable Bags”, “We Support a Plastic Bag Free Connecticut”, or “Protect Long Island Sound and CT Marine Life: Don’t Forget Your Reusable Bag”.
  • Rise Above Plastics Pledge Cards will be signed by CT citizens, with a detachable part that can be kept in the wallet or in the car to remind them of their pledge. Alternatively, window clings will be handed out to pledge-signers to remind them to bring their new reusable bags. Surfrider activists will encourage new pledges at numerous Surfrider events, while shopping day to day, and by partnering with local grocery stores.
  • Reusable bags will be handed out to CT coastal shoppers at beach cleanups, movie nights, International Surfing Day, Summer Beach Bashes with live music, Free Surf Lessons, Surf Contest, and Oysterfest.
  • “Rise Above Plastics” Surfrider Canteens will be sold as a fundraiser. The proceeds of the bottle sales will be put back into our annual programming and will allow the Connecticut Chapter to sustain the Rise Above Plastics Connecticut Program for future years.

Quick facts on disposable bags:

  • The average single-use shopping bag is used for 12 minutes yet it remains in the environment for 1,000 years.
  • Each year Americans throw away 100 billion polyethylene bags, while only 0.6 percent are recycled.
  • 67% of plastic bags are imported from Southeast Asia.
  • Not only are single-use bags unsightly litter, but they clog sewers and stormdrains, increasing pollution and costing public agencies tens of millions of dollars annually collectively on litter prevention, cleanup, and enforcement activities.
  • While single-use bags are recyclable, less than 5% actually get recycled despite aggressive efforts to educate the public and implement recycling programs. The quantity of plastic marine debris is rising and WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO RECYCLE OUR WAY OUT OF THIS PROBLEM. Many areas in the country are not yet ready for a ban, but the Town of Westport’s major grocery stores already recycle single-use bags and merchants don’t use plastic bags at all. Westport is the first plastic bag free town on the East Coast!
  • There is a section of the Pacific Ocean twice the size of the continental United States called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Within it, 100 million tons of plastic swirl in a vortex of currents. There is so much plastic in the water that it outnumbers zooplankton by six to one!
  • This plastic ends up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals. In fact, one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die globally each year due to ingestion of or entanglement in plastics.
  • Plastic is forever, with virtually every piece of petroleum based plastic ever made still in existence. That’s why it’s so critical to our oceans and beaches that we dramatically reduce our use of plastics, especially single-use plastics, starting today.
  • You can make a difference for our world’s oceans, waves and beaches – pledge to rise above plastics today!

How you can help!

E-mail your legislators:

  • Share a story about any experiences you have had with single-use bag litter or using reusable bags.
  • Urge them to support the Reusable Bag Promotion Act (HB5215) and to cosponsor the legislation, if they have not already.
  • Sign your name and tell them what town you live in.
  • Contact your State Representative and Senator.
    Find your legislators by town or ZIP code.

First Hand Account:

Kasey and Hector of our CT Chapter attended a speech by Captain Charles Moore, the founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. He spoke about the garbage patch in the Pacific ocean and plastics in general in the ocean. Algalita is doing the first ever Atlantic Ocean expedition this year. Members of the Surfrider Foundation will be there to support him.

In Connecticut:

In response to strong public support and leadership by local municipalities to reduce plastic bag pollution, the General Assembly is now considering legislation that would enact a five-cent fee on throwaway bags used at the checkout. Bags used for other purposes (deli meats, newspapers, etc.) and restaurants would be exempted. Proceeds from the fee would go toward funding recycling and other environmental programs at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Policies Help Reduce Plastic Bag Pollution:

Surfrider helped Westport, CT approve the first single-use bag ban in nearly two decades east of the Mississippi, and governments across the country and around the world are taking action on single-use bag pollution. In 2002, Ireland enacted an incredibly successful program to reduce single-use bag litter by adopting a small fee on single-use bags at the checkout counter. This policy resulted in a 90% reduction of throwaway bag use in one year! The Reusable Bag Promotion Act (HB 5215) can reduce single-use bag pollution and provide critical support for recycling and environmental programs.

For more information check out the following websites:

Check out the Plastic Wave sculpture innovated by surfer and activist Kathleen Egan from San Francisco! An interactive multi-sensory art project like this is phenomenal not just for its creativity, but for its purpose, as it seeks to mentally connect people to the issues behind the art through physical connection. This wave probably can’t physically travel very far (although it will be on display in a few spots), but it would be really cool if people all over were somehow able to ride the plastic wave. We are interested to hear/see how other activists pick this ball up and run with it.