San Diego County Chapter

Plastic Pollution

Plastics are all around us and a part of our everyday life. But single-use plastics, which you use for a few minutes and then discard, have created a major pollution problem – our ocean is filling up with plastic trash, choking fish and marine life and even entering the human food chain. The solution is to move away from this “throwaway” culture, reuse our everyday products like bags, mugs and straws. Let’s rise above plastics to keep our water clean and beaches healthy.

What is Plastic Pollution?

Plastic isn’t made to pollute the ocean, but there are up to 13 million tons of plastic entering marine waters each year. Most of it starts out on land as litter on our beaches, streets and sidewalks and is swept into storm drains, creeks, streams and rivers that lead to the ocean. 



Expanded polystyrene foam products, including foodware, easily break into small pieces that litter the beach.


The 100 billion single-use bags used per year in the U.S. are easily replaceable with reusable bags.


Plastic straw litter can be very harmful to marine life, like blocking the airway of a turtle.


Hold On To Your Butt. Cigarette butts account for approximately one in every five items collected during beach cleanups.


From microbeads to plastic fragments to microfibers, this small but pervasive form of plastic is frequently found in the stomachs of fish.


Despite availability of recycling, still less than 1/3 of plastic bottles are recycled in the U.S.

Why is it Important?

Plastic pollution on our beaches overwhelmingly comes from products that we use for a few minutes, are discarded into the environment, and then last a lifetime. It’s up to us to change the current flow of plastic pollution through advocacy for better product alternatives and switching to a reusables in our every day life.


What We’re Doing About it

Surfrider Foundation has been tackling plastic pollution head on for over a decade. Through the programs discussed on our Rise Above Plastics page, we encourage individuals, industry, and governments to protect our ocean, waves and beaches by moving away from single-use plastics.