Most plastic pollution at sea starts out on land from overflowing landfills or as litter on beaches, streets and sidewalks. Rain flushes that plastic through a storm drain system, or directly sends it into creeks, streams and rivers that lead to the ocean. After plastics enter the marine environment, they slowly photodegrade into smaller pieces that marine life can mistake for food, sometimes with fatal results. Research groups report that ocean gyres — a system of circulating currents in an ocean — concentrate plastic pollution in five main areas of the world’s ocean, with alarming consequences.
The whole lifecycle of plastics is also problematic. From extraction to disposal, plastic pollutes our communities and environment. It is a leading contributor to climate change. And more often than not, it disproportionately harms Black, Indigenous, and Communities of Color.
Learn more below about our ongoing campaigns and recent victories through the Rise Above Plastics program.
Chemical recycling bills are unfortunately back in NY. Help Surfrider Foundation's New York chapters stop these legislations which would promote the burning of plastic waste in New York. View and sign our Action Alert below.
Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants program recognizes restaurants that are committed to cutting out wasteful single-use plastic. It offers restaurants a simple and straightforward framework to make sustainable choices for our ocean and become leaders in their communities.
Skip the Stuff Bill
The Skip the Stuff Bill asks for restaurants, food delivery apps, and online delivery platforms to give out single use plastic utensils, napkins and condiments only when it is requested by the customer. This bill was introduced by NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer in October 2019 and signed by Mayor Eric Adams on February 1st, 2023. Not only will this bill reduce the amount of single use items in circulation, it will also save restaurants money. Read more on our blog here.
Plastic Bag Ban
The plastic bag ban officially took into effect in March 2020, but enforcement began only in October 2020. The reason why the enforcement took longer was because of a lawsuit from plastic bag manufacturers. Now that it is in effect and enforced, stores could face fines up to $500 if they are not complying.
Plastic Straw Upon Request Bill
In May 2021, the New York City Council passed a bill to reduce plastic straw usage. The bill dictates that establishments will only be allowed to give out a plastic straw if a person asks for one.