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How The Coronavirus Has Impacted Plastic Pollution

Volunteers clean up trash at Ocean Beach, July 5, 2019.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Volunteers clean up trash at Ocean Beach, July 5, 2019.

Millions of people in more than 175 countries worldwide are pledging a "Plastic-Free July." The annual challenge calls on individuals to make an effort to cut down on their use of plastics this month. It’s a movement that started small nearly a decade ago in Australia, but involved some 250 million people last year.

As part of the Surfrider Foundation's mission to protect the world's oceans, the organization works to educate the public to reduce plastic pollution and advocates for policy reform to reduce reliance on plastic.

"When you think about just the billions and billions and billions of tons of single use plastic that our throw-away society relies on just to get by every day, with less than 10% of that being recycled we know that there's over five trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean and the statistics keep growing every day. In fact now we know that there are more pieces of plastic in the ocean than there are starts in the sky," Mitch Silverstein, manager of the San Diego chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, said.

In 2020, Plastic-Free July comes at a time of setback for those fighting plastic pollution, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here in San Diego that includes cancellation of a yearly cleanup of the beaches after the Fourth of July. Due to the pandemic, group events are not allowed and the large cleanup is not happening. Instead the Surfrider Foundation is asking people to participate in a solo cleanup on July 5.

Silverstein joined Midday Edition on Thursday to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on plastic pollution.


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