NYC Chapter

Rise Above Plastics

The Rise Above Plastics Program is designed to reduce plastic pollution in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics. 

Most plastic pollution at sea starts out on land from overflowing landfills or as litter on beaches, streets and sidewalks. Rain flushes the 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 photo-degrade 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.”

Through this program we work on different campaigns, and have been able to have multiple victories in the past years to reduce plastic pollution and protect our oceans.

Here are some campaigns we are working on in NYC to address our plastic pollution issue:

  1. Skip the Stuff Bill: bill Int. 1775-2019 B, that 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. You can read more about our campaign at our page 

Here are some victories we’ve had recently:

  1. 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. 

  2. Plastic Straw Upon request Bill: Early 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. 

Through this program, we also have a program called “Ocean Friendly Restaurants”:

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. To learn more or join as an OFR, go to our NYC OFR page.


Contact us for ways to get involved: