Chatting with the Surfrider Foundation about Single-Use Plastics…


First, thank you Emily at the Surfrider Foundation Los Angeles Chapter for taking the time to do this interview with us.  Let’s jump in!

Please tell us about Surfrider!  What is your nonprofit Surfrider Foundation about?!

The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.  We have a small staff on the national level to help provide critical support for areas like accounting, technology, and HR, and raise money.

That being said, our irreplaceable national network of chapter volunteers serves as the first response to local threats in coastal communities across the US.

They are the boots on the ground who collaborate on both the local and national level with regional staff and issue experts to carry out our mission through campaign, program and educational initiatives in their local communities. Our ocean and special places must be proactively protected!

Swallz at cleanup, Image copyright: Surfrider.

Is Surfrider only in the United States, or do you also have Chapters in Canada too?

Surfrider Chapters are located around the world.  In Canada, there are chapters in Vancouver, and on Vancouver Island.

Do you have any events coming up that we can share with our readers?


Our Chapters with Ocean Friendly Restaurant programs often host events at these restaurants; in LA, we have monthly OFR meetings and Pa’u Hana Happy Hours at our restaurants.

  There is an interactive map on the program website that will point you in the direction of the OFR nearest you!

Ocean Friendly Restaurants, Image copyright: Surfrider.

Let’s chat single use plastics?  What places in North America are making headways on reducing their plastic usage? Why is it so important to start using reusable plastics, or ocean-safe biodegradable items?

San Francisco is really leading the charge by banning plastic bags, plastic straws, and plastic foodware.  Seattle, Washington DC and Santa Monica have implemented similar bans. It’s inspiring to see the innovations presented in the wake of this legislation. 

In San Francisco, Dispatch Goods is working to create an ecosystem of stainless steel, reusable containers to be “rented” during check-out from food delivery apps.

Image copyright: Surfrider

Their goal is to eventually pick them up curb-side, like recycling, so that it mimics normal consumer behavior.

Switching to reusables is crucial because we are running out of places to dispose of trash, we’re causing irreversible pollution by manufacturing new items instead of using what we have, and we’re spending money we don’t need to on single use items instead of reusing items.

I also want to take a moment to warn against bioplastics; they appear to be a great alternative to plastics, but they often cause more problems than they solve.  There are a lot of different types of biodegradability.

Some bioplastics biodegrade with oxygen and ultraviolet radiation, so litter left out in the sun will degrade. However, it doesn’t completely decompose, & the process takes years, while releasing toxic chemicals.  Also, bioplastics often mistakenly wind up being recycled, and they end up damaging the recycling apparatus. They have a different melting point from standard plastics.

Paper is always better than plastic, and reusables are best of all!

Image copyright, Surfrider.

Do you have any recommendations for Food Businesses in their goals of looking to reduce single-use plastics and other take-out items that are showing up on Coastal beaches?

There are many, many companies that are manufacturing alternatives to single-use plastics for practically every product a restaurant would need to use.  But the most productive and most helpful way to begin is to ask: what products are necessary in the first place? Straws, for example, are an item that many restauranteurs assume their customers can’t do without. 

And, paper straws are a great replacement for plastic, but asking the customer whether or not they even WANT a straw is a way to lessen overall waste, which will help even more.

We are a society that values convenience and, when we’re willing to take a moment to consider reusables and to avoid using something disposable, we stand to make a huge impact.

Rustic Canyon Image, copyright, Surfrider.

How can people or businesses get involved in supporting your Nonprofit? Do you have community partners, or public memberships?

Individuals can get involved with their local Surfrider chapter by attending a meeting; find out about events for the chapter nearest you by checking this site:  

You can take action by giving your feedback on local legislation on pertinent issues here:

We will contact you about volunteer opportunities if you give us your info here:

You can fundraise or donate here:



Image copyright: Surfrider

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