Plastic Ocean Project: Save our oceans and skip the straw

If passed, a new Sullivan's Island ordinance would ban single-use plastic bags, plastic straws,...
If passed, a new Sullivan's Island ordinance would ban single-use plastic bags, plastic straws, polystyrene coolers, polystyrene containers and polystyrene cups. (Source: Pixabay)(Pixabay)
Updated: Feb. 20, 2019 at 4:49 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - More than nine million straws and stirrers have been picked up from beaches and waterways around the world over the last 30 years. The average person uses at least one straw a day, according to the Ocean Conservancy.

Straws and plastic in general threaten marine life, that’s why Ocean Conservancy started the Skip the Straw movement. It’s a pledge to say no to plastic straws; a small step that can go a long way for ocean health. There have been over 19,000 pledges taken.

The coast is home for us here in southeastern North Carolina and it’s important we take care of our oceans. Locally, the Plastic Ocean Project (POP) is working towards removing plastic from our oceans while creating sustainable businesses. The goal of POP Inc. it to create a collective community focused on reducing plastic use while finding innovation and collaboration around giving value to plastic waste.

“We have initiatives that we educate through art,” says Tricia Monteleone, the Vice President of Plastic Ocean Project. “We are working to reduce the amount of plastic that is in the ocean, overall, and even land.”

One initiative POP is working on now is called Trees for Trash.

“[We’re collecting] tons of trash everywhere,” says Monteleone. “We have cleanups all the time and every time we go and a do a cleanup we weigh it and for every 25 pounds of trash we are planting a tree.”

In the ocean, plastic does not biodegrade. The challenge POP has for everyone is to figure out ways to find plastic, big or small, in the ocean and take it out.

POP’s mission is to educate through field research, implement progressive outreach initiatives, and find solutions to address the global plastic pollution problem to create a better future.

“You have to start thinking about where you’re buying,” said Monteleone. “Everything things about just recycle, but there are three R’s: reduce and reuse. It seems really hard but once you start taking those steps in the right direction, they add up."

Restaurants in and around the North Carolina coast have gone “ocean friendly.” They have agreed to only serve plastic straws upon request. To see the list of establishments or to apply to become a ocean friend establishment, click here.

“We use an insane amount of plastic straws in this country alone and it is always in the top things found in the international coastal cleanup,” says Monteleone. “I think if we can just reduce that one thing, we are already getting rid of that one thing that is constantly found in our cleanups.”

POP is partnered with the Cape Fear Chapter of the Surf Rider Foundation and North Carolina Aquariums to bring awareness to plastic pollution.

You can become a POP member today. Visit their website on how to do that. They are always looking for volunteers to help with their monthly cleanups.

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