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A Local Member's Efforts to Alleviate the Plastic Pollution Crisis


Plastic products can be found in almost every aspect of our lives. Plastic’s versatility and relative ease of disposability fit well into our culture of convenience and have caused it to become one of the most widespread human pollutants today. One of the areas where plastic pollution is most pervasive is in our ocean. Local Surfrider member, Ryan Willson, has recognized this plastic pollution crisis and has taken great effort to help remediate its environmental impacts.

Ryan is a native San Diegan and was raised with a deep appreciation for the environment, particularly the ocean. His father, Michael “Scott” Willson, was a professional surfer and Surfrider member. He instilled in Ryan a deep appreciation for the ocean and for keeping it clean. Ryan says, “As long as I can remember we had Surfrider stickers on our cars and he always reminded me to do my part to protect the ocean”. Over the last five years, Ryan has been organizing his own beach cleanups at Sunset Cliffs and has also heavily participated in Surfrider beach cleanups and No Border Sewage cleanups in the Tijuana River Valley.. In 2012, he learned of a program instituted by the eco-friendly cleaning product company, Method, whereby they recycle plastic found at beach cleanups and upcycle it into useable bottles for dish and hand soap. Method has largely relied on volunteers to collect the plastic to use in the production of these bottles. Ryan, interested in taking part in this program, contacted Method and volunteered to collect plastic found at his personal and Surfrider cleanups. Method accepted Ryan’s offer and they both plan to continue collection.

To begin the plastic collection process, Method sends Ryan a large bin to fill with rigid plastics recovered from the ocean or beach. Once enough plastic is collected and the bin is filled, Ryan sends it to Method so that they can clean it, blend it with post-consumer recycled plastic and upcycle it into high quality useable bottles. The resulting gray color of the bottles is the natural color that the plastic takes on in the recycling process. The theory behind Method’s plastic recycling initiative is that by using plastic that already exists they reduce the production of new plastics and their eventual migration into our ocean. Method’s Ocean Plastic bottles, which are available at Whole Foods, demonstrate that the recycling of plastic into sustainable bottles is a viable solution to reducing the amount of plastic debris in the ocean.

“Hopefully, more companies will follow Method’s lead and realize that it is possible to create a successful product that is environmentally friendly”, says Ryan. The company where Ryan works, Bumbleride, has, like Method, embraced the sustainable movement and creates baby strollers featuring fabrics made with recycled plastic. To learn more about Bumbleride’s products, visit Ryan encourages everyone to take a second to consider the impact of their daily purchases.

To follow Ryan and take part in reducing the amount of plastic pollution plaguing our ocean, you can participate in Surfrider beach cleanups and help sort the plastic found at the cleanups for recycling. Contact Surfrider at for further information. You can also provide plastics that you find at beach cleanups to Ryan so that he can continue to support Method in their Ocean Plastics efforts. To learn more about Method visit The plastics generally sought by Method are rigid and opaque plastics, as they work best in their recycling process. To provide Ryan with recovered ocean plastic of this nature, you may contact him at