As part of American Sailing’s ongoing commitment to our environment through the Plastic Pollution Purge Initiative, beginning this Earth Day, we are no longer issuing plastic membership cards. We are releasing newly designed, sustainable, print-at-home membership cards to reduce our use of plastic and so that our members and instructors can still enjoy the benefits of carrying a physical card when needed. If you are a member, you can simply download and print your membership card on-demand from our Member Portal. Your membership card is also available to store in your smartphone wallet if you prefer a strictly digital experience.
Plastic Pollution Facts:
- According to the Earth Day Network and National Geographic, 8 million metric tons of plastic winds up in the oceans every year. That is enough trash to cover every foot of coastline worldwide with five full trash bags of plastic, compounding every year. By the year 2040 the amount of trash in our oceans is expected to triple to over 29 million metric tons.
- According to National Ocean Service, plastics are the most common marine debris. They can come from various land and ocean-based sources, enter the water in many ways, and impact the ocean and Great Lakes. Once in the water, plastic debris never fully biodegrades. Synthetic and semi-synthetic fibers, including polyester and viscose, were the most prevalent type of plastic found in deep-sea fish.
- According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, China and Indonesia are the top sources of plastic bottles, bags, and other rubbish clogging up global sea lanes. However, plastic is found on the shorelines of every continent, with more plastic waste located near popular tourist destinations and densely populated areas.
Plastic Pollution Gets Personal for Sailors:
Recently, American Sailing’s Roman Manning came across a debris pile while sailing in the Caribbean. His sentiments were that this scenario was playing out with regularity even in remote places. Is there a spot on the world’s ocean that has not been tarnished by plastic?
As sailors, we have an inherent responsibility to protect our liquid playground.
When we utilize our oceans and lakes, we naturally become stewards of the environment. While the term environmentalist might trigger a negative response, we are de facto protectors of our environment. How can you make a difference?
Seven Easy Ways Sailors Can Make a Difference:
- Volunteer for environmental organizations that promote environmental awareness and protection. You can help organize events, clean-ups, and awareness campaigns in your community.
- Organize an event in your marina to raise awareness about environmental issues. This could be a seminar, a workshop, or a public lecture. You can invite experts in the field to share their knowledge and expertise with your audience. It could be as easy as helping with resources for pump-outs or trash pick-up.
- Reduce your use of plastic products, particularly single-use plastic items such as straws, water bottles, and shopping bags. Instead, opt for reusable items made of sustainable materials. Look around your boat and change how you utilize plastic products while aboard.
- Dispose of trash properly and recycle as much as possible. Make sure to responsibly dispose of hazardous materials, such as batteries and electronics. Boaters are often guilty of emptying their tanks in marinas or throwing trash overboard. Spread awareness of better options.
- Use eco-friendly cleaning products and toiletries that do not contain harmful chemicals that can end up in the ocean. Are your boat cleaning products safe for the ocean?
- Choose seafood that is sustainably sourced and supports sustainable fishing practices. Avoid purchasing fish that are endangered or are caught using destructive fishing methods.
- Educate others about the importance of ocean conservation and encourage them to take action to protect the ocean as well.
Seven Organizations Protecting Our Oceans:
- Oceana is the world’s largest nonprofit organization that focuses solely on ocean conservation. Its programs aim to protect marine wildlife, reduce ocean pollution, and promote sustainable fishing practices.
- The Ocean Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works to protect and restore the ocean through research, education, and conservation initiatives. Its focus areas include ocean acidification, marine biodiversity, and sustainable aquaculture.
- Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit organization that focuses on protecting the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches through grassroots activism, research, and education. Its programs aim to reduce plastic pollution, protect marine ecosystems, and promote coastal preservation.
- Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an international nonprofit organization that focuses on protecting marine wildlife and ecosystems. Its programs include combating illegal fishing and wildlife trafficking, protecting ocean habitats, and promoting ocean conservation.
- Marine Conservation Institute is a nonprofit organization that works to protect marine life and habitats through research, education, and advocacy. Its focus areas include ocean acidification, marine biodiversity, and sustainable fishing practices.
- Coral Reef Alliance is a nonprofit organization that focuses on protecting coral reefs and promoting sustainable reef management practices. Its programs include conservation and restoration efforts, research, and education.
- Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation is a nonprofit organization that focuses on protecting marine life and habitats through research, education, and advocacy. Its programs aim to reduce plastic pollution, promote sustainable fishing practices, and protect endangered marine species.