Single-use plastics are polluting the environments of all living organisms. We now know plastics to be found in every environment on the planet, from the highest mountain peaks to the deepest trenches of the ocean. Today, one third of plastic ends up in our environment as waste. Plastic is a particularly menacing type of waste due to its everlasting nature; plastic never breaks down – instead, it breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces, becoming easier to ingest by marine life and ending up entwined in the food chain.
Bottom line: with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated, virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form.
We see the devastating effects of single use plastic pollution on Hawaii’s beautiful beaches largely in the form of microplastics. We also know that recycling is not the answer but that luckily for us, being the source of the problem also makes us the source of the solution.
Rise Above Plastics is designed to eliminate the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics. Our goal is to educate the public about the detriments of plastic and advocate for a reduction of these single-use plastics that end up in our marine environment.
The Rise Above Plastics volunteer committee is currently focused on preventing single use plastic waste in the visitor industry. We are working with vacation rentals to provide alternatives to single use plastic water bottles as a filtered form of water while vacationing on Maui.
The Surfrider Foundation, Maui Chapter has been instrumental in advocating for local policies to reduce single-use plastics. In 2010, Maui County became the first local municipality in Hawaii to pass a ban on plastic bags. This was followed in 2014 by the passage of the state’s first Tobacco Free Beaches and Parks legislation. In 2017, Maui County also became the first county in Hawaii to ban the sale and use of polystyrene (“styrofoam”) food containers. Maui’s polystyrene bill outlaws the use of polystyrene to-go containers including clamshells, cups, bowls, and plates.
Surfrider Maui was a key player in Maui’s ban on single-use, plastic grocery bags, which went into effect January 2011. We are excited to announce that, as of July 1, 2015, Hawaii became the first state to ban plastic bags at the point of sale. We encourage you to help your city or county take after Hawai’i’s example and help eliminate single-use plastic bags where you live.
In 2014 Maui County passed a bill outlawing the use of tobacco products at all Maui County beaches and parks. The law is designed not only to enhance the health quality of public spaces, but also decrease the amount of cigarette butts littered in the environment.