Miami Chapter
Miami Chapter

Rise Above Plastics

Rise Above Plastics is designed to eliminate 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.


The ocean is turning into a plastic soup.

Most plastic pollution at sea starts out on land as litter on beaches, streets and sidewalks. Rain or overwatering flushes that litter through a storm drain system or directly to creeks, streams and rivers that lead to the ocean.  After plastics enter the marine environment they slowly photodegrade into smaller pieces that marine life can mistake for food, sometimes with fatal results.  Ocean gyres concentrate plastic pollution in five main areas of the world’s ocean and various research groups are bringing back alarming data documenting plastics impacts.

Simple local actions can help make an impact to solve this global issue.  Join us in protecting the coast and Rise Above Plastics!  Check out the resources on these ‘RAP’ program pages, then get involved with our Surfrider Miami Chapter to help protect the coasts and oceans.

Plastic—it’s all around us.

It’s in our homes, our offices, our vehicles, our yards, our playgrounds. We use it to package food, bottle products, bag produce, make dinnerware and utensils, make toys….

Plastics have undoubtedly helped us to manufacture, package and ship goods more easily, for less money, and in some cases more safely than ever before.

But, plastics pose a significant threat to our planet as well.

Part of the problem is plastic itself. The very qualities that make it an adaptable and durable product to use, also make plastic an environmental nightmare. You see, plastics do not biodegrade. Instead they photodegrade – breaking down under exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, into smaller and smaller pieces.

Bottom line: with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated, virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form.

Rise Above Plastics Mission

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.

Rise Above Plastic Grassroots Goals

We encourage YOU to help address these globlal issues locally with plastic reductions at home, school, work and for your entire community:

  1. Connect with Rise Above Plastics by attending a Surfrider Foundation Chapter meeting or following us on Facebook / Twitter.
  2. Get involved with your local chapter and/or spread the word to friends and family about the problems with plastics.
  3. Be a leader and have the biggest impact by directing a plastic reduction program at school/work or a plastic reduction ordinance with you local city council.

Ten Ways To Rise Above Plastics

Here are ten easy things you can do to reduce your ‘plastic footprint’ and help keep plastics out of the marine environment:

  1. Choose to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water.  Cloth bags and metal or glass reusable bottles are available locally at great prices.
  2. Refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other ‘disposable’ plastics.  Carry reusable utensils in your purse, backpack or car to use at bbq’s, potlucks or take-out restaurants.
  3. Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag/box that includes a thermos.
  4. Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants that let you use them.  A great wat to reduce lids, plastic cups and/or plastic-lined cups.
  5. Go digital!  No need for plastic cds, dvds and jewel cases when you can buy your music and videos online.
  6. Seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on.
  7. Recycle.  If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics.  Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates.
  8. Volunteer at a beach cleanup.  Our chapter holds cleanups frequently. See the calendar here.
  9. Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills.
  10. Spread the word.  Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to Rise Above Plastics!

Plastic-Free Challenge by Surfrider Miami

The Plastic-Free Challenge Program by Surfrider Foundation Miami Chapter is a new program under the Surfrider Foundation Rise Above Plastics (RAP) Initiative, designed to help local restaurants, businesses and hotels to reduce additional unnecessary waste including single-use plastic bags, plastic cups, straws and polystyrene containers/cups. 

Participants pledge to implement at least 2 easy steps to become close to being a “plastic free” business:

1. Offer reusable shopping bags (company branded) to customers, either free or for a fee

2.  Serve all take-out food in reusable or compostable takeout containers 

3. Offer reusable cups, water bottles (company branded) or serve only recyclable or compostable cups, and skip the straws

Plastic-free Challenge participants receive special recognition and exposure to over 50,000 Surfrider members worldwide. Each month, the Surfrider Foundation Miami Chapter will highlight a new participant using multiple social media sites including the Surfrider Foundation site, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Participants receive a sign to display, which explains how their business creates positive impacts on the local environment. 

Are you ready to take the Plastic-Free Challenge? Contact a Surfrider Member about how your business can take the Plastic-Free Challenge!

What RAP looks like here in Miami, FL

  • In 2010 about 690 thousand tons of HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) “bags, sacks and wraps” were generated in the United States, but only 4.3% of this total was recycled.
  • Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris, and up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.
  • An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine litter.
  • It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman, and child in the country.
  • In 2008, Florida lawmakers passed a bill prohibiting local governments from banning plastic bags until the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) creates recommendations, and they are adopted by the Legislature.
  • In 2010, the DEP completed the Retail Bags Report– strategies to discourage the use of single-use paper and plastic retail bags…. but the Legislature still hasn’t adopted it.
  • While SB 830, Carryout Bags, is still a preemption- it does allow local governments to opt in to a standard ordinance prohibiting the use of plastic carryout bags.
  • Support SB 830 and help Florida take the first step toward protecting our environment and wildlife from the harmful impacts of single use plastics.

The Facts About EPS Foam

  • EPS foam does not biodegrade in our lifetimes. It may photodegrade and/or break into small pieces if littered, which are harder to clean up.
  • EPS foam is typically made from non-renewable fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals that may leach out over time, especially if in contact with hot, greasy or acidic food.
  • Animals can mistake EPS foam for food or nesting materials.
  • Although inexpensive to buy, EPS can be expensive to clean up. Since they are so inexpensive, polystyrene products are often thrown away or littered after a single use. Many municipalities that have to comply with storm water regulations limiting trash in waterways have already spent substantial taxpayer dollars trying to control, capture, and remove trash, including EPS.
  • EPS recycling is often not economical, so most of it gets landfilled or littered. Very few communities have access to polystyrene recycling. This form of plastic pollution should be addressed at the source instead of relying on more trashcans and ‘end of the pipe’ solutions of capturing and removing litter.
  • The ‘Two Rivers’ study in Los Angeles found that over 1.6 billion pieces of plastic foam were headed to the ocean over a three-day period during surveys in 2004/5. 71% of 2.3 billion plastic items in the survey were foam items and that made up 11% of the overall weight of plastic pollution collected during the surveys.
  • Expanded foam takeout ware not only negatively affects the environment and wildlife but also human health. Styrene residues are found in 100% of all samples of human fat tissue from exposure through food and packaging. Styrene has been classified as an anticipated human carcinogen and a neurotoxin.
  • Visit: to learn more


Questions? Concerns? Ideas? Contact the RAP Coordinator,