Earth Friendly Water Blog

Plastic Wasteland

Green Living: Protecting our Oceans from Plastic Waste


What some US beaches look like

Every time I have a 6-pack of cans I always make sure I cut those plastic circles into a million pieces because I’m always so concerned with them getting wrapped around a bird’s neck, I don’t even like birds, or a sea lion eating one and chocking. I’m big on recycling as much as I can and reusing what I don’t recycle.  My niece and I just came up with a few fun uses for the top of laundry detergent bottles:    

Painting: Natalia loves to paint, so her first idea for the laundry caps was to put water in them to rinse her brushes.  Then she painted the tops and used them as stamps on her paper.

Play dough: Why buy cookie cutters for play dough when you can use the caps of laundry detergent, different brands have different sizes.  Natalia made a bunch of play dough cookies using her caps and then we “pretended” to eat them. I think Stella, my pooch, may have actually ate one… oops!  Hey we made the play dough ourselves so I knew what was in it at least.

Sandcastles: Natalia is very excited that summer is coming and we will be going to the beach, she has already asked me if she can bring her laundry caps to make sandcastles. “Tia, they will be all different sizes, we can make a whole city with these things.”

 As you can see from the above there are many things you can come up with for reusing useless items when you hang out with a 5 year old all day.  Which got me to thinking… what else do I have in the house that I see as useless that could be repurposed and make useful? 

1)      Plastic squirt bottles:  Whenever my method cleaner runs out I always recycle the bottle.  Now instead of throwing it in the recycling bin I make my own cleaning products and put them in the old bottles and re-label them.  I also use one for squirting the new puppy, Beckett, when she’s being a little too friendly with the cat.. he’s hissing she thinks he’s playing.  Or when she sees a piece of food she likes and tries to eat it.  A little squirt goes a long way… until she thinks it’s a game.

2)      Pallets:  Okay this is random and not everyone gets delivered pallets of goods on a weekly basis, but my husband does.  I now have a stash of pallets behind our shed and a ton of DIY pallet projects on my pinterest page, that I want to accomplish.  Stay tuned, I will be starting my pallet herb garden soon.  I mention pallets because they are always coming wrapped in all this plastic.  I don’t know what to do with it, can I recycle it? Should I throw it out?  Is it like a plastic bag where you can bring it to your local grocery store and recycle it in the bins?  For now I put it in my blue recycling bin.     

I’m realistic I know that me, by myself I’m not going to make the plastic go away completely, but if I can help just a little by making sure I recycle my plastics, reuse them, or upcycle them I can make a small impact.  I am making a small impact by teaching my 5 year old niece, Natalia that we can take something useless and make it into something useful.  And if she passes that on to someone else then that’s a win… I think so anyway.

Growing up on the ocean I took it for granted: the clean, white sandy beaches, blue water, the occasional brown seaweed and crabs.  Living just about a half an hour away from where I grew up on a different beach I have a different perspective.  Where I grew up the community took care of the beaches, they took their trash with them, raked the seaweed, brought their beach toys and chairs home with them, there wasn’t trash coming in with the tides and people leaving their unwanted belongings on the beach.  One day walking my dogs on the beach one ran by me with a sandy plastic bottle in her mouth, ever since then when I walk the dogs I also pick up trash, with gloves.  There are barrels on the sidewalk every ¼ mile or so that people can put their trash in, but somehow they leave it on the beach.  I’m making another small impact on my community… go me!

It’s scary to think about all the plastic contaminants that are floating out there in the big blue with all of the marine life.  Plastics are floating toxins, which is often consumed by marine life and then we eat the marine life… so in turn we are eating the plastic toxins.

The best choices for seafood to eat in the Northeast include (information from Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch):

  • 1)      Arctic Chard (farmed)

  • 2)      Bass: Striped (US hook & line, farmed)

  • 3)      Catfish (US)

  • 4)      Clams, Mussels, Oysters (farmed)

  • 5)      Clams, Oysters (wild)

  • 6)      Cobia (US)

  • 7)      Cod: Atlantic (imported, hook & line)

  • 8)      Crab: Dungeness & Stone

  • 9)      Haddock: (US handline)

  • 10)   Halibut: Pacific (US)

  • 11)   Lobster: Spiny (CA, FL & Mexico)

  • 12)   Salmon: (AK)

  • 13)   Scallops: (farmed)

  • 14)   Squid: Longfin (US)

  • 15)   Swordfish: (Canada & US harpoon, handline)

  • 16)   Tilapia: (Ecuador & US farmed)

  • 17)   Trout: (US farmed)

  • 18)   Tuna: Bigeye (US Atlantic troll, pole)

  • 19)   Canned Tuna, light: Skipjack (troll, pole)

  • 20)   Yellowfin: (US troll pole)

  • 21)   Canned Tuna, white: Albacore (Canada & US troll, pole)

    Northeast best catch, Striped Bass, Clams, Oysters and Catfish

To find the best seafood choices in your area go to  

There are foundations and people out there who make it their mission to keep the ocean & beaches clean.  One of those foundations that does a lot around the country is The Surfrider Foundation they are dedicated to protecting and preserving our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. In the Northeast alone the Surfrider Foundation has 9 active campaigns going on.

  • 1) Asbury Park, NJ Keep North Beach A Beach, started in June 2009 and is ongoing

  • 2) Long Island, NY Move the Montauk Lighthouse, started in January 2006 and is ongoing

  • 3) Long Island, NY Surfing Access Near Montauk Point Lighthouse, started in January 2007 and is ongoing.

  • 4) Maine Beach Access Litigation, started in 2009 and is ongoing

  • 5) Massachusetts, Updated Bottle Bill, started January 2010 and is ongoing

  • 6) Nassau County, NY Pass the Spill Notification Bill to let people know of sewage discharges, started in October 2010 and is ongoing

  • 7) NJ Beach Access Rules, started in August 2010 and is ongoing

  • 8) Save South Kingstown Coastline from Seawalls, started in September 2011 and is ongoing

  • 9) Stopping Gloucester, MA’s 301 H Waiver, stated in November 2010 and is ongoing

Visit for more information on the Northeast Active Campagins and more throughout the country. The Surfrider Foundation has 5 active campaigns in Washington State, 3 in Oregon, 33 in California, 5 in Texas, 11 in Florida, 3 in the Mid-Atlantic and 1 in active campaign in the Great Lakes.  Along with their active campaigns they also have several programs going on including:

  • 1)      Beach Access

  • 2)      Blue Water Task Force

  • 3)      Know Your H2O

  • 4)      Ocean Ecosystem

  • 5)      Ocean Friendly Gardens

  • 6)      Quad: Youth Outreach Program

  • 7)      Rise Above Plastics

The Rise Above Plastics mission is “to reduce 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”-

Recycle plastic #1 and #2 are the easiest to recycle

Ten ways to Rise Above Plastics, these are the ten easy things you can do to reduce your “plastic footprint”:

  • 1) Reuse plastic bags (a plastic bag can take 400 – 1000 years to decompose) or choose a more eco-friendly bag while shopping, cloth, plastic bags recycled into a new reusable bag, etc.

  • 2) Buy a reusable glass bottle.  Tell your company about AquaHealth Premium Sustainable Bottled Water and Healthy Beverage Program. Ban the Bottle!

  • 3)  Refuse single serve packaging.  Carry your own utensils.

  • 4)  Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons for kid’s lunches or your own with reusable lunch bags and containers.

  • 5)  Bring your reusable coffee mug and or water bottle everywhere you go and have the coffee shoppe fill you up.

  • 6)  Go Digital! Ditch the cds, dvds, etc… you can download everything now to your phone, ipad, kindle, ipod, etc.

  • 7) RECYCLE! If you must use plastics #1 PETE & #2 HDPE are the most commonly recycled plastics.

  • 8) Volunteer @ beach clean ups!  Surfrider Foundation Chapters often hold monthly clean ups

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

  • 10) Spread the word… knowledge is power.  Some Knowledge to spread…  54% of 120 marine mammals on the threatened list have been observed tangled in or ingested plastic...73.9 Million Pounds of plastic are spread through the worlds circular currents... 51 billion plastic bottles are used every year, only 1 in 5 are recycled

What you can do to make a difference:

  • 1) Take the Plastic Pledge @

  • 2) Volunteer for the International Coastal Cleanup with The Ocean Conservancy at The Ocean Conservancy, like the Surfriders, are fighting for trash free seas.  

The perfect clean, white sandy beach we all dream of

Tags: Beach Cleanups, NJ Beach Access, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, Montauk Lighthouse, Surfrider Foundation, Ocean Conservancy, Ausbury Park, Montauk Point Surfing, Maine beach access, Updated bottle bill, Nassau County, sign up to clean up