Wednesday, July 1, 2015

12 Steps to Kick your Plastic Habit!

Clean Ocean Action’s

12 Steps to Kick Your Plastic Habit

Our use of single-use plastic is an addiction and the harmful effects reach around the globe.  As a petro-chemical, every piece of plastic is related to oil drilling, pollution from refineries, and more chemical contamination.  However, the most visible impact is litter found in every habitat on the planet, especially waterways.  Today, the ocean is awash in plastics, killing or harming marine life by ingestion or entanglement.  While some plastics do have a role in society, we must reduce our overuse.  You can help.  Use this 12-Step Guide to help break your addiction to single-use plastic. Integrate these steps into your lifestyle and reduce your plastic waste.

1.        Recognize your plastic habit.  Understanding your use of disposables is the first step to reducing usage.  Look at your trash. Take special note of items with excess packaging, or any items that are single-use.  Make a list of how many disposable items are in your trash.  Make a personal goal to reduce or ban those items.

2.       Know the numbers.  Recycle more plastics by familiarizing yourself with the recycling number system.  The “chasing arrow” indicates that it can be recycled and the number inside the arrows indicates the type of plastic from which the material is made.  “1” (PETE) and “2” (HDPE) are the most widely recyclable. Check with your municipality to see if they accept other numbers.

3.      Be straw-free.  Americans use around 500 million straws a day! Just say “hold the straw.” There are also plenty of reusable straw options, such as glass, stainless steel, and bamboo.

4.       Ban the bead.  Avoid using any products that contain microbeads, such as the ingredients polyethylene and polypropylene.

5.     BYOB.  Bring your own Bag and Bottle! Putting a reusable bag in your car, briefcase, backpack or purse, and carrying a reusable bottle are easy ways to start plastic-free habits.    
6.      Fork it over.  Don’t accept plastic ware for take-out. Bring your own silverware.  Better yet pack your own meal in a reusable lunch box/bag, and use reusable sandwich bags or containers. 

7.        DIY at home.  Clean your house using products you already own (lemons, vinegar, baking soda) instead of buying harsh chemicals in plastic containers.  Look on-line for “recipes”.

8.      Can it.  Choose cans over plastic. Most cans contain 50 percent or more recycled aluminum. A used aluminum can is recycled and back on the grocery shelf as a new can in as little as 60 days.  Better yet, use your reusable bottle!

9.      Be a smart shopper.  Look before you buy.  Avoid items with excess packaging and disposable towelettes. Use a sponge or rag instead. Be creative.  

10.   Support action.  Stay informed about plastic and microplastic policies, and take action to support these policies.  Contact COA for current actions.

11.     Rally more converts.  Help friends and family understand the importance of reducing plastic usage, and show them available alternatives.  Tell us about your progress!

12.    Join the campaign.  Supporting COA’s Crowdrise campaign for microplastic research will ensure the availability of ongoing information and resolutions for a clean, healthy ocean.

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Hats off to the C.O.A.S.T. Campaign

Summer is in full-swing, which means it is coasting time!  There’s nothing more refreshing than a beautiful beach day at the Jersey shore, which is where you’ll be seeing our volunteer advocates helping out to prevent ocean pollution.

This summer, COA will be hosting the 26th annual Clean Ocean Action Shore Tips (C.O.A.S.T.) campaign to help educate citizens about current ocean pollution issues. As in previous years, you will find our volunteers at information tables on beaches, beach clubs, and festivals throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties on weekends in July and August.  If you are interested in having a C.O.A.S.T. table on your beach or at your festival, please feel free to contact Melissa. 

We know you’ve been waiting for them, so the C.O.A.S.T. campaign for 2015 will be featuring new merchandise: COA hats!  The hats will be available in multiple colors and will display our vibrant logo.  Stop by one of our tables to pick up one of your very own.

The (tentative) weekend table schedule is as follows:

June 27-28: Bradley Beach LobsterFest
July 4-5: Ship Ahoy Beach Club
July 11-12: Chapel Beach Club, Driftwood Beach Club, Sands Beach Club, Monmouth Beach Bath & Tennis Club
July 18-19: Atlantic Highlands Film One Festival, Asbury Park Blues & Brews Festival, Promenade Beach Club
July 25-26: Sea Bright Public Beach, Edgewater Beach Club, Loch Arbor Public Beach, Bradley Beach Public Beach 3
August 1-2: Brick Public Beach 3, Long Branch Public Beach, Highlands Clam Festival, Seaside Park Boardwalk
August 7: Beach Ball-A-Palooza
August 9-10: Lavallette Public Beach, Elberon Bathing Club, Avon-by-the-Sea Public Beach, Allenhurst Public Beach
August 15-16: Jenkinson’s Pavilion, Ocean Grove, Island Beach State Park
August 29: Long Branch Jazz and Blues

To volunteer at a C.O.A.S.T. table, please call Melissa at (732) 872-0111 or email her at  We hope to see many supporters on the beaches and at festivals this summer! Stop by a C.O.A.S.T. table to learn about ocean pollution issues, sign important petitions, donate to our cause, buy popular environmentally-themed merchandise and learn how to become more involved with Clean Ocean Action! Together we can achieve a cleaner ocean.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Welcome - COA 2015 Interns!

We are thrilled to have Gianna Fischer and Derek Noah join COA for their 3rd year as Interns!  In 2013 as seniors at Middletown High School South, this dynamic duo volunteered for COA for their Senior Project and in 2014 they helped organize numerous campaigns and events.

This summer, as a Junior at Boston University Honors Program (BU) in Public Relations with a minor in Political Science and Philosophy, Gianna Fischer has returned in the capacity of our Policy Intern. She assists Zach Lees, Coastal Policy Attorney, and Executive Director Cindy Zipf with issue research and implementation of policies. In her spare time, Gianna is editor-in-chief of the BU Buzz Magazine, and the Communications Strategist for BU’s Public Markets Investing Group.

Multi-talented Derek Noah, who is a Junior at Rutgers University with a major in Environmental Natural Resource Economics and a minor in Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behaviors, is proficiently helping COA with the Corporate Beach Sweeps, COAST, and field work with the K9/Blue Star program, among other responsibilities.  Derek is involved with the Cook Business Club and is an elected member of the Rutgers Environmental and Biological Sciences Governing Council.

As the 2015 Development Intern, Alicia Maziarz, works closely with Tory Woods, Events Coordinator, and assists with all aspects of fundraising, resource development, and event planning. Alicia attends the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a major in Legal Studies and Public Health. She is a recipient of the competitive UMASS Women in Leadership Fellowship and works as an office assistant at the University. The Shore Paddle and Sandy Paws pet walk are sure to be successful with Alicia’s capable and friendly support.

Our Marine Debris Intern for the summer of 2015 is Charlotte Maiden.  She will assist Catie Tobin, Marine Science Education Coordinator, with the Corporate Beach Sweeps.  A former volunteer of COA and a MAST student, Charlotte attended the Honors College of the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Wilmington for two years with a major in Environmental Science and will begin her junior year at UNC Chapel Hill in September.  Charlotte is an active member of the UNC Coastal Society and ECO Club, and was a summer Research Assistant at Monmouth University.

Katie Veasey is COA’s first Marine Science Intern. She is a Junior at Hamilton College pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Chemistry. Katie is the President of the Hamilton Environmental Action Group, a Site Coordinator for the Hamilton Association of Volunteering, and holds the #1 position on the Varsity Women’s Golf Team! At COA, she is assisting Catie Tobin, in the analysis phase of the microplastics project and will help advance it to the next stage. Investigations are in the lab, as well as in the field.

COA’s 2015 COAST Intern is Melissa Mertz.  She will coordinate all aspects of the annual COAST campaign (Clean Ocean Action Shore Tips), which educates and empowers citizens at beaches and festivals to protect the ocean.  Melissa is a Junior pursuing her BS at Rutgers University with a major in Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behaviors.  She was the President of Clothier Hall Residential Association last year, participated in the GREEN Program Study Abroad in Iceland, and is an environmental writer for EPIB Trail.  Melissa is professional, energetic and thorough – check out COA’s website for a COAST table near you!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ocean Blasting Updates

Seismic Update

On June 5th, the Christie Administration filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court with the intent to stop the NSF-funded Rutgers seismic survey off of the New Jersey coast. The complaint cited concerns over the potential adverse impacts of the study on both commercial and recreational fisheries as well as its potential harm to marine mammals. NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin said that “It is extremely disappointing that the federal government is moving ahead with this misguided project despite widespread objection from all quarters and without regard to the negative impacts on New Jersey."

In addition to the state’s complaint, the Recreational Fisherman’s Alliance and a number of commercial fishing groups have filed suit against the National Science Foundation in an effort to obtain injunctive relief and halt the project. These groups are largely concerned with the effects that the study will have on their fishing efforts. Some commercial groups have already seen declines in their catch rates since the project began in early June. 

Concerns over Marine Life Following Seismic Start

In the weeks since the Rutgers seismic blasting began, there have been reports of two—possibly three—dead whales in the New York/New Jersey bight. The first whale, a minke, washed up on the shore of Coney Island on June 8th. Its cause of death was determined to be a boat strike, but due to time restrictions and the length of time that the whale had been dead, scientists were unable to extract its ears to check for potential damage from anthropogenic sound. On June 10th, a pair of fisherman spotted a 40 foot whale floating approximately 10 miles off of Manasquan inlet. The whale was later identified as a fin, which is an endangered species. This whale’s cause of death was undetermined, and since that report, there has been one additional report of a dead whale off of the New Jersey coast. Details of this whale are still outstanding.

In addition to whale deaths, there have been a number of infant dolphin deaths—however, this isn’t necessarily unusual at this time of year. With bottlenose dolphin stocks in steep decline following the vast spread of Morbillivirus in the past few years, declines in dolphin populations are of particular concern. The marine mammal stranding center has been and continues to track dolphin deaths and strandings closely, and Clean Ocean Action has been following these stranding events as well. If you see any unusual behavior or activity related to marine mammals, please be sure to report it to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center at (609) 266-0538.

Sturgeon Information 

During the permitting process for this seismic survey, the National Science Foundation (NSF) initiated consultation with NMFS due to the presence of several Endangered Species Act-listed species in the survey area, including 5 species of sea turtles, 6 species of whale, and 2 species of fish. At the end of this process, a scientific document was produced which was required to contemplate the potential impacts of the survey on all the endangered species in the area. Unfortunately, the document did not live up to what was required of it. The Atlantic Sturgeon was mentioned, and then quickly dismissed, as NMFS “believed” that it would not occur in the survey area. This is erroneous. On June 1, 2015, Clean Ocean Action sent a letter to the Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), alerting her to the fact that the Atlantic Sturgeon was wrongly omitted from the full impact evaluation process, citing studies that provided ample evidence that there are likely to be sturgeon present in the proposed testing area. Having never received a response regarding this letter, Clean Ocean Action wrote once more to Division Chief Peterson of NOAA with the same concerns. Clean Ocean Action continues to wait for a response regarding these concerns. 

Infographic Blurb

Haley Jordan, a Clean Ocean Action volunteer, has worked tirelessly over the past few months to assist us in designing a seismic surveying infographic, which has been released on our website and social media outlets. Haley has extensive graphic design skills and helped COA create a visual of the seismic surveying process and its potential effects on the marine ecosystem. If you’d like permission to use the infographic, please contact us at (732) 872-0111. Waves of thanks to Haley!