TEDx: Top 4 Ways to Save Our Oceans

November 12th, 2010, posted by Shore Crew Tags: Campaigns, Challenges, David de Rothschild, Events, Lifestyle, Oceans, Plastics, Waste

In a city like Los Angeles, the phrase “too much plastic” doesn’t generally refer to the environment. But this past Saturday, when 150 of the world’s leading scientists, politicians, artists and activists convened at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica for the TEDx GreatPacificGarbagePatch, that’s exactly what the day entailed. Set against the backdrop of a shimmering ocean vista, the conference focused on far more troubled waters–the horrendous Texas-sized trash mass floating in the center of the Pacific Ocean.

The day-long event was a powerful gathering of some of the brightest and most innovative in the environmental and oceanic field. Organized by the Plastic Pollution Coalition, David was honored to speak alongside Sylvia Earle the “sturgeon general”, John Daramani Mahama, the vice president of Ghana, Fabien Cousteau the oceanographic explorer, and noted environmental advocate Van Jones, among many others who turned out to share ideas and strategize for ways to reduce our toxic impact on the ocean. Add to that 75 satellite watch parties across the world on every continent and it was a true global powwow. The goal? To discuss our collective responsibility in ensuring public discourse on the existence of ocean garbage and seek real solutions for its elimination.

David encouraged the audience to use creativity in approaching the problem, and emphasized the importance of collaboration and teamwork as vital ingredients to action. He also announced the first ever eco-sport international challenge, which, here at Adventure Ecology we’re extremely excited about! Named International Fishing for Plastic Day and held each 6th of November, we believe such a holiday will provide a fun and competitive method for reducing waste in our oceans!

Of course, we all know the greatest challenge often lies in converting big ideas into tangible actions. Which is why we were pleased the event concluded with a comprehensive four pronged approach to tackling ocean trash. These four challenges became the bedrock upon which the day was based and will serve as the touchstones for the Plastic Pollution Coalition’s 2011 Campaign to end plastic pollution. We like them. A lot. And we think you will too. Check ‘em out below:

Challenge #1: Business Owners and Individuals (Yep That Means You): Go Cold Turkey

“Did you know that the Average American burns through 100lbs of plastic per year?” Beth Terry, author of Fake Plastic Fish, asked the crowd. It’s true. Every bottle, bag and wrapper adds up to an unbelievably amount of waste each year. Activist and media personality Erica Williams added that nothing justifies the use of disposable plastics for personal or business use. These objects, created to be used for only a few moments, stay with us forever at a tremendous cost to the planet and the environment. “We challenge all individuals and businesses to end their dependence on disposable plastic, today,” said Williams, who was recently named by Politico.com as one of Top 50 politicos to watch, and is the former Deputy Director and Advocacy Manager of Campus Progress as the Center For American Progress. Not sure how to kiss disposable plastic goodbye? Check out these 5 easy ways to reduce plastic in your life–at the workplace and at home.

Challenge #2: Manufacturers: Stop with the Plastic Wrap. Develop Alternatives and Cap Your Output on Non-biodegradable Virgin Resin Product

That’s right. Enough with the plastic packaging! We’re drowning in it. This ambitious proposal was delivered by scientist Wallace “J.” Nichols, Phd, an activist, community organizer and Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences and Founder of Ocean Revolution, an international network of young ocean advocates. “We challenge you to own the responsibility of your product until the very end,” said Nichols. This doesn’t mean you can’t package your goods, but seek alternatives, and consider redesigning products so they require far less to get the job done. “We want industry to begin investing resources into developing a new generation plastic product – plant-based, non-toxic in any stage of its existence, and biodegradable,” Nichols said.

Challenge #3: Policymakers and Political leaders: Take the Bull by the Horns. Develop Policies That Curb Irresponsible Plastic Use

We need your guidance and leadership. There is a saying that the best leaders look to the horizon, not just the bottom line. It’s time to step up and make a splash. Leslie Tamminen, Ocean Program Director for Seventh Generation Advisors, urged public leaders to adopt policies that support and incentivize individuals and businesses in their efforts to eliminate disposable plastics. Policies such as the bans on plastic bags in regions of India or the tax on plastic bags in Washington, DC, need to be embraced worldwide.

Challenge #4: Plastic Manufacturers from the Ocean Nations: Join together and form a union against the onslaught of plastic to your environment, economic well-being and public health.

As witnesses on the front lines, you know better than anyone the dangerous results of our disposable plastic culture. H.E. Mr. Stuart Beck, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations from the Island of Palau, addressed the participants at TEDx GreatPacificGarbagePatch with a moving call appealing to the world on behalf of all small island nations. “Plastic pollution is destroying our ocean, our planet, and ultimately our own individual bodies and health. The time has come to a put a stop to it.”

Our oceans are our treasures. But with the rate our garbage is accumulating, they won’t be for much longer. Join with us and refuse to stand by and let them be destroyed. Check out the already viral Refuse video here, in which David, Jack Johnson, Benicio Del Toro and others have already pledged their support.

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