Experts: Cultural change needed to end plastic pollution at sea

Much like how the problem of plastic pollution in the ocean took decades to grow, the experts who spoke at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) Plastic Pollution Symposium Oct. 2, agreed it will take decades and a multi-pronged, collaborative approach to solve.

The second in a two-part series, “Strategies for solving the problem of plastics in the sea,” was held at the Scripps Seaside Forum auditorium, and brought together experts from various organizations seeking to solve one small piece of the complex puzzle that is the trillions of pounds of plastic in the ocean. (The first lecture, held the day before, tackled “The science of plastics in the sea — perspectives on the sum of the parts.”)

“You’ve seen the pictures — sharks that have eaten flip-flops, birds that have eaten bottle tops, particles of cigarette filters in anemones — causing starvation and strangulation throughout the food chain. Simply put, the planet is choking on plastic,” Igor Korneitchouk of the Wilsdorf Mettler Future Foundation, told the crowd.

He cited a 2017 National Geographic study that indicated 91 percent of all plastic has not been recycled.

Surfrider Foundation’s Plastic Pollution Initiative: This directive is focused on stopping pollution at the source and reducing the amount of single-use plastics that are produced. It is a grassroots effort of 160 chapters and school clubs that looks to educate and engage with businesses. Learn more at surfrider.org/initiatives/plastic-pollution

Artist Pinar Yoldas created the impactful images of the turtle with balloons on its back, instead of a shell; and the bird that, over time, changed its color based on its diet of red Coca-Cola bottle caps, pink Evian bottle caps or blue Dasani bottle caps, a la, how flamingos get their color from the krill and shrimp they eat. Learn more at cargocollective.com/yoldas/WORK

City of San Diego Environmental Services Department: Staff works to create behavior change from the legislative side by collecting data. “Because we are able to get this kind of data, we are able to go the City Council and pass our Zero Waste Plan,” Klaseus said. The Zero Waste plan, ultimately, looks to reach zero waste by 2040. Learn more at sandiego.gov/environmental-services