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2020 Highlights - Rise Above Plastics Committee

In spite of setbacks caused by Covid-19 in 2020, the RAP team has continued to raise awareness about the harmful effects of plastic pollution and has not stopped advocating for single-use plastic policies county-wide. In addition, we have embarked on several new plastic reduction advocacy projects. Highlights are outlined below:

  • Single-Use Plastics Policy Work
    • Oceanside: After a multi-year campaign in Oceanside, city staff has developed a Marine Debris Reduction ordinance as part of their Zero Waste Plan update, which will be presented to the City Council in early 2021.
    • San Marcos: In December 2019, the San Marcos City Council voted unanimously to direct staff to begin developing an ordinance. A pause has been placed on the project due to Covid-19, but the RAP team has continued the conversation with city council members in order to encourage moving forward as soon as possible. 
    • Escondido: RAP lead Janis Jones has been working with the Escondido Climate Action Plan (ECAP) citizen’s committee to ensure that strong waste reduction language, including single-use plastic, is included in the ECAP.  
    • Vista: RAP Leads Janis Jones and Mark O'Connor, along with Brady Bradshaw from Oceana, met with Councilmember Corinna Contreras to develop a single-use plastic reduction action plan. Next steps include a presentation for the City Council in January 2021. 
    • Carlsbad: In February 2019, the Carlsbad City Council voted unanimously to have single-use plastics added to the legislative agenda after RAP Lead Janis Jones and others spoke at a City Council meeting. Since then, the RAP team has continued communicating with council members in support of moving an ordinance forward. Considerable progress is expected as soon as impacts to businesses caused by Covid 19- restrictions are alleviated. 
    • Chula Vista: Executive Committee Chair Alex Ferron has been working with a committee that was convened to develop recommendations for a single-use plastic reduction policy.
  • LEGOLAND Sustainability Fair
    • In February 2020, the RAP team worked with Carlsbad Council Member Priya Bhat-Patel to coordinate a sustainability fair at LEGOLand. Non-profit organizations and businesses promoting sustainable products tabled at the fair. Goals included raising awareness about plastic pollution and educating Carlsbad's business owners about alternatives to single-use plastic items.
  • Debris Free Roadways
    • In collaboration with I Love A Clean San Diego and Marin Clean Highways, the RAP team developed and presented the Debris Free Roadways proposal to SANDAG’s Litter Abatement Subcommittee. The proposal includes several components including, Tarp Your Load, education and outreach, and mitigation strategies, including policy. The presentation was well-received and the project has developed into a county-wide partnership with several entities including SANDAG, Caltrans, CHP, EDCO, Waste Management, and Republic Services. 
    • The focus of Tarp Your Load is to educate drivers about the importance of securing materials in truck beds in order to prevent debris from escaping. During events held at landfills and other disposal sites, volunteers will provide drivers of vehicles with uncovered loads information about the importance of securing all materials. In addition, drivers will receive a free tarp for future use.  Events were planned for both the Otay and Miramar landfills prior to the county moving into the purple tier. New dates will be scheduled as soon as it is safe to do so. 
    • Another aspect of the Debris Free Roadways project is supporting Caltrans with the Adopt-a-Highway and Adopt-a-Ramp programs. To that end, Surfrider adopted the I-5 on and off ramps at SeaWorld Drive. This project is being managed by our beach cleanup team  and will kick off in early 2021. Signs recognizing Surfrider for keeping the area clean have already been installed. 
  • Education 
    • Volunteer Kikki Avilla is in the process of developing slide presentations for educational purposes. Presentations will focus on a variety of plastic related topics and options will be appropriate for students in the 3rd - 12th grades.  
  • Plastic Free Video Series 
  • Compact Scholars Program
    • RAP lead Janis Jones supported students from SDSU in the Compact Scholars program as they developed digital materials to be used for raising awareness about plastic pollution. Their work included the development of the BooPlastic Instagram page that highlights interviews with people such as our own Chapter Manager Mitch Silverstein. 
  • Cigarette Butt Mitigation
    • RAP leads are working with a coalition of organizations to mitigate cigarette butt litter. The coalition is growing, and the committee is in the initial stages of identifying goals and focus areas. 
  • Stop Balloon Pollution
    • Volunteer Tina Overland approached RAP with concerns about the number of balloons washing up on our beaches. As an Encinitas resident, Tina worked with the Environmental Commission to have the issue added to the City’s 2021 planning agenda with the ultimate goal of enacting an ordinance to ban the sale of all helium-filled balloons within city limits. 
  • Ocean Friendly Workplace
    • Volunteer Peter Maloney is developing a program to encourage businesses to reduce the amount of single-use plastic items used in workrooms and office spaces. Modeled after the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program, it’s currently being called Ocean Friendly Workplace. RAP Lead Jenny Roberts is working with Peter to develop the program.
  • Beach Toy Borrow Boxes
    • The problem of plastic beach toys left behind on beaches was recently raised by Drew Hare who attended the RAP meeting in November. Since then, RAP lead Janis Jones began working with City of Oceanside staff to investigate the possibility of installing “Beach Toy Borrow Boxes” to house unwanted beach toys for visitors to take and use for the day.

If you would like to support our programs and/or to propose your own passion project, please join us for our monthly meetings. For more information, please contact one of the RAP leads:

Janis Jones -

Mark O'Connor -

Jenny Roberts -