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Surfriders Foundation - Beach Clean up edition with Jack Egan.

Late last year we caught up with Jack Egan, volunteer Chair at the Connecticut Surfriders, and his team of volunteers during a beach clean-up day in Gulf Beach Connecticut. A typical clean-up day takes place along the beachline and they collect single-use disposable plastics, bottles, cans, cigarette buts, and balloons but plastic packaging is the biggest problem oceans face today.

80% of the rubbish found in the ocean is land-originated, and volunteers show up from all over the area, to participate in the clean-ups and they collect huge volumes over the course of a day on the shoreline, car park, and fence lines. They do a trash sort, dividing all the items collected into categories such as plastic glass and aluminum, straws, and apparel and they tabulate and weigh it and it’s sent to the Surfriders Headquarters where they use this information to try to craft sound legislation to combat plastic waste in the environment.

“The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network.”

The Surfrider Foundation is a grassroots activist network made up of 80+ chapters across the United States, Europe, Australia, and South America. They support localized beach clean-ups and one of their big US state-level achievements was banning single-use plastic bags. Their efforts really do make a difference and it certainly is worth fighting for.

The events bring communities together and educate people on the damage single-use plastics and dumping rubbish in general, can do to our environment, beaches, and health. The key is to change policy and our relationship with plastic, we can’t clean our way out of this mess and we need to hold the producers responsible for this issue.

Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair

Update from Jack for 2023....

"Every late winter, volunteers from Surfrider's 80 U.S. national chapters attend Ocean Recreation Hill Day in Washington DC. This year, the Connecticut chapter was able to send 3 members who lobbied elected officials, at the Federal level, for clean water, sensible climate change initiatives, and laws to encourage plastic pollution mitigation. This was an inspiring and rewarding example of true grassroots activism!

In order to attend events such as Hill Day, our chapter, as a non-profit, is also responsible for fundraising. This can be an extraordinarily challenging pursuit but typically leads to unexpected successes. In the past calendar year, we've partnered with three corporations and held beach cleanups, where we received generous donations. We worked with scientists in New London at a public beach, clothing retailers at urban wetlands, and an international agency at state parkland. Regardless of the group or location, we found plastic to be abundant and overwhelming. Packaging was the primary culprit and our motto of "plastic anywhere is plastic everywhere" held true. We found balloons, candy wrappers, plastic bottles and caps, marine debris, and sports equipment. We continue to fight for common sense legislation, both locally and at the state level, to address the toxic mess we see at our monthly cleanups.

In addition to our legislative goals, we make a big effort to connect with our members and reach those who are ready to make a difference in protecting our ocean, waves and beaches. We held two movie nights to screen a film of the legendary surfer Gerry Lopez, who recounted his ocean adventures. We continued our "Talk Story" video chats, where we heard from ocean recreation leaders, from Pacific kayakers, South African paddlers, California digital artists to Hawaiian photographers... and not to mention the two world-champion surfers who joined us!

Our chapter also builds awareness and memberships at stand-up paddle events (Connecticut typically has few waves to surf).

This summer, for International Surfing Day, we'll co-host the Charles Island SUP Cup in Milford, where we expect over 100 paddlers and hundreds of spectators. At our table, we'll have a fantastic opportunity to engage and educate beachgoers about our mission to protect what we love. Additionally, we will host five Sprints challenges throughout the summer, where paddlers will battle head-to-head to win a customized Surfirder carbon fiber paddles at each event.

Our small, but mighty chapter prides itself on our unique and dedicated approach to making the world a better place! Great things always have small beginnings, and dedication over time always leads to goals achieved.

Thank you GreenFridays4Future for your great work and continued effort to educate and lead from the front; we are with you every step of the way!"

Jack Egan

Jack Egan is the Chairman at Surfriders CT, he was born in Connecticut and grew up in California. Growing up, having always lived near a beach, he considered the ocean his backyard.

"The Surfrider Foundation's mission is to protect our oceans, waves, and beaches for everyone. We have over 80 local chapters in the United States; my state of Connecticut has one chapter with about 120 members and I'm the volunteer Chair."

There are lots of ways to get involved in a beach cleanup at your nearest beach or waterway this summer. Get your family and friends together, and as you walk and talk, pick up some rubbish you see along the way or you could arrange a day out and commit an hour or two to clean the area around you and enjoy the rest of your day knowing you have contributed something positive to your environment.

There are organisations that arrange beach clean-ups around Ireland and if you are in another country, there are bound to be lots too, a quick Google search can yield some great results.

Try visiting some of these links to find out more about volunteering in your locality.

Maybe as a project, your school, community, sports club, business or organisation can arrange a beach clean-up this Spring/Summer? If you decide this is something you would like to do, please get in touch with us here at Green Fridays 4 Future to find out how we can support you with this project!

Remember - if you can see it, clean it! Don't leave it to someone else. Let's reduce our litter load, recycle where and when we can, and be active in your mission to clean our environment for a greener future for all.

Little actions - Big Impact!

The GreenFridays4Future Team

Enjoy this worksheet we put together for children to get them involved in beach clean-up activities! DOWNLOAD HERE

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