Plastic Ocean

Beth Kwart, chairwoman of the Surfrider Foundation South Jersey Chapter, talks to viewers about the movie "The Plastic Ocean" Sunday, Oct. 29 at Enlightenend Café in Ventnor.

Steve Jasiecki

Sustainable Downbeach and the Surfrider Foundation South Jersey Chapter are reaching out to educate and enlighten the public about the growing problem of plastic waste. Last Sunday, the foundation presented a screening of the movie "A Plastic Ocean." The movie was appropriately shown at The Enlightened Café in Ventnor.

More than 50 attendees were enlightened by the film and took part in a discussion on what we can do to alleviate the plastics problem.

"A Plastic Ocean" is a powerful movie that takes the viewer around the globe to show the damaging effects that discarded plastics are wreaking on the world’s oceans.

Scientists studying plastics in the ocean give an alarming account on how extensive this problem is. Plastic products break apart by ultraviolet light, salt and wave action, forming smaller particles called microplastics. The particles are small enough to be eaten by birds and all sorts of marine life. Many of the animals that ingest this plastic eventually starve or choke to death.

Human health is at stake because food sources such as fish and shellfish are being contaminated by these toxic microparticles.

After the film, Surfrider Chairwoman Beth Kwart led an open discussion. The attendees agreed that more people need to see this movie to have a greater understanding of what is happening to the oceans. Some suggested the movie should be seen in schools and other venues.

Everyone agreed that something needs to be done now.

Cleaning up the ocean will be a very lengthy and costly process. The first thing we need to do is stop it at the source. We need to stop the flow of trash going into the oceans.

Reducing our dependence on plastic by using alternate materials is a start. One controversial solution is to place a fee on single-use plastic bags. The idea is to get people to start using reusable bags to reduce bag litter. Cities that have passed bag ordinances have seen a great reduction of plastic bag litter in their community.

Sustainable Downbeach and Surfrider will be holding future discussions on what we can do as a community to handle this problem. We welcome your participation. You can learn more by visiting the Surfrider web page at and the Sustainable Downbeach Facebook page at

Sustainable Downbeach is working toward creating a healthier, friendlier community with an eye on protecting the environment. For information or to get involved see Sustainable Downbeach on Facebook.

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