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Take the no-plastic pledge


Somewhere in the vast Pacific Ocean is a garbage patch the size of Texas.

It is composed of plastic. In honor of World Ocean Day, Friday, June 8, pledge to Rise Above Plastics in your daily life. Make the promise to use less plastics at surfrider.org under "programs."

It is estimated that 80 percent of the ocean's garbage patches comes from trash bags and plastic bottles that wash in from the beach.

According to the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to protect the world's oceans, most plastic pollution at sea starts out as litter on beaches, streets and sidewalks. Once in the ocean, plastics slowly photodegrade into smaller pieces that marine life can mistake for food, sometimes with fatal results. Ocean gyres, a kind of gigantic whirlpool created by ocean currents, concentrate plastic pollution in five main areas of the world's oceans.

Everyone can take simple actions to make an impact on this global issue.

One way is to get involved in Texas chapters of the Surfrider Foundation.

The very qualities that make plastic an adaptable and durable product to use, also make it an environmental nightmare. Plastics do not biodegrade, they photodegrade into smaller and smaller pieces.

That means that 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.

Ten ways to Rise Above Plastics

1. Choose to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water. Use cloth bags and metal or glass reusable bottles.

2. Refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other 'disposable' plastics. Carry reusable utensils with you to use at barbecues, potlucks or take-out restaurants.

3. Replace sandwich bags and juice cartons with a reusable lunch bag/box that includes a thermos.

4. Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants that let you use them.

5. Go digital! No need for plastic CDs, DVDs and jewel cases when you can buy your music and videos online.

6. Seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on.

7. Recycle. Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates.

8. Volunteer at beach cleanups.

9. Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills.

10. Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to Rise Above Plastics!

Pictured: The Surfrider Foundation urges everyone to pledge to Rise Above Plastics to keep them out of the world's oceans.