Last month I was able to participate in International Coastal Cleanup Day with Surfrider Foundation – Monterey Chapter. It is so inspiring to see the community get together to better our environment. Although this is always a fun activity to be involved in, it is still heartbreaking to see how much trash accumulates on our beaches. It makes me wonder, when will this stop? I can’t seem to grasp how we, as humans, can be so careless about our natural environments. However, this event always pushes me to work harder to protect the environment; through school, through my personal life, and my career. Through working with Surfrider I have learned about the dangers of allowing plastics into our oceans. Beach cleanups help to try and eliminate this problem at the last possible stop, the beach. Once the trash is within reach of the tides it gets washed away into the ocean. In the ocean, plastics photodegrade (break into smaller pieces) and are mistaken for food, often with fatal results. This alarming reality is why I choose to dedicate my time to living as plastic-free of a life as I can, and you should too! The marine organisms that come in contact with these small pieces can not determine whether it is plastic or food. It is our job to make sure that our trash does not enter the oceans in the first place so we can ensure that their ecosystems are free of pollution. Although we can try to as much as we can in our communities, it is important that we recognize this is a global issue. Many countries do not have advanced waste disposal processes like the United States. In the U.S. we are very lucky to have such advances, therefore with this knowledge we can educate other countries about the importance of properly disposing of our trash. I plan on working towards this goal. Starting here in the United States, I will work to educate our youth (as my Capstone project) about the importance of Rising Above Plastics. I can’t wait to get started!