Browse social media or visit your favorite store and you’ll most likely see ads, promos and posts about ditching single use plastics.  From water bottles and straws to bags and take-out containers.  It is awesome to see this movement becoming mainstream and it’s having an impact.  It is bringing awareness of the plastic problem our world is facing to the forefront.  Kids are leading this discussion and genuinely want to see change. 

As a surfer, like many who spend their time in and around the ocean and beaches, I feel a connection to the sea.  It delivers a sense of calm and excitement at the same time.  It fuels me and provides enjoyment and entertainment.  I could sit on a beach or boat and stare aimlessly for hours.  I take pride in my little part of protecting what I love.  I reduce, reuse and recycle.  I have my reusable water bottle collection, my endless canvas bags, stainless steel straws and bamboo cutlery.  I pick up garbage I see on the beach and floating in the ocean.  I encourage others through social media posts and in general conversation.  I do believe I am doing all I can to be part of, and hopefully lead in a way,  this movement to Rise Above Plastics. 

And it is making a difference.  The actions and decision I make, multiplied by the millions of others that are doing the same, should turn this around. 

But the problem just keeps getting worse.  The amount of plastic in our ocean, large and small, from the huge fishing nets that get discarded to the microscopic pieces floating in the gyres, keeps getting worse.  How can this be?  We are all doing the sensible thing!  We are all bringing our refillable bottles and canvas bags!  Aren’t we?

We are.  The problem is, it is only chipping away at this behemoth of an issue a little bit.  I am going to let you in on a well-known secret.  To really want to see a change, to make an impact, to have the kind of world you want for your kids, your grandkids, and their grandkids there is one more step you have to take.

To get the root of the issues and really fix the problem you have to start with the decision makers.  Those that make the laws and policies that affect our environment.  You have to research who really would be that change in our city, state and federal elections.  You cannot vote strictly on party lines, popularity or the familiar face and name.  To see real change, it all starts with the laws that govern our society.  Do you want to see change in the way our cities, towns and state handle pollution, climate change, clean water and safe streets?  Elect the leaders that will fight for this.  Talk to elected officials and make your voice heard.

I am not saying to stop bringing your water bottles, straws and bags.  That makes a difference and makes a demanding statement.  But to really win this fight, to really make a difference, you need to start with the laws.