The Blog Aquatic » DC News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Washington, DC: “Farewell Foam… Hello Clean Water!” Tue, 01 Jul 2014 13:56:08 +0000 Nick Mallos

Volunteers cleanup plastic-foam along the Anacostia River in Washington, DC.

July 18, 2014 update: Our nation’s capital has banned plastic-foam food containers!

As a conservationist, ocean lover and resident of Washington, DC, I have some exciting news to share! Last week, lawmakers in our nation’s capital voted to ban the use of plastic-foam food and drink containers throughout the District by 2016. This is a fantastic step for the health of the Anacostia River and a major step towards trash-free seas!

Each year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, we see massive quantities of foam polluting beaches, waterways and coastlines—1.2 million items of foam during the 2013 Cleanup alone. And foam doesn’t just disappear. A best-case scenario would have a single plastic-foam cup fully “biodegrading” in 500 years; however, it’s likely that these plastics will never truly go away. Foam is lightweight and brittle, fragmenting into small pieces at the slightest touch. These properties are the very reason it disperses so easily and widely on beaches and into rivers and marine environments.  With each piece of foam that fragments into waterways or the ocean, the likelihood that fish, sea turtles, or seabirds will mistakenly eat those plastic bits increases, threatening the health animals and our oceans.

While ocean cleanups help to lessen the problem – they are not the long-term solution. Cities and communities banning products like foam and encouraging fewer single-use products with actions like bag taxes, along with the production of fewer disposable goods are key in preventing trash from reaching the water in the first place.

But, before this new legislation becomes law, there will be a second and final vote on the bill this summer. We’ll be keeping an eye on the progress of this bill and hope that DC joins the ranks of Seattle, San Francisco and many other cities that have banned foam containers.

And, don’t forget—YOU can make a difference. Take the pledge to turn the tide on ocean trash and fight for a healthy ocean.

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Service Warriors: Students Collect More Than 1,300 Pieces of Trash Thu, 02 May 2013 13:50:44 +0000 Allison Schutes

While most middle and high school students across the country were sleeping in and enjoying a break from the rigors of school, 55 students representing many of the D.C. area’s schools dedicated their spring break to service.

Ocean Conservancy was honored to be one of the organizations to partner with City Year for their inaugural Signature Service week as part of the environmental sustainability day.

With a background in environmental and conservation education, I was thrilled to have the chance to spend all day working with local students, both in the classroom and out in the field. Yet I was a little apprehensive as well. When compared to the other issues discussed over the week, is trash really that big of a deal? Do middle school and high school students even care about trash?

Fortunately, these feelings of apprehension quickly faded as the ubiquitous problem of trash captivated the morning discussions with the students. They were incredible. Their interest and eagerness to be challenged by an issue like ocean conservation and trash blew me away. Even more impressive was their focus on what actions they could take to combat the issue of trash in their communities and local waterways.

City Year’s service week centered around the theme of “Community Renewal” with students spending half of each day in the classroom learning about how issues such as homelessness, poverty, HIV/AIDS and environmental sustainability affect their local community and the world around us. Following lunch, the students traveled to all parts of the District to participate in hands-on service projects related to the day’s lesson.  That afternoon four teams of students and City Year Corps members made the trek to Anacostia Park to experience the issue firsthand. Armed with gloves, trash bags and data cards, these true Service Warriors battled the cold and wind to collect over 1,350 debris items, totaling 148 pounds of trash, in 2 hours. Although each group recorded data as they trolled the Anacostia River shoreline collecting trash, the students could not believe the final combined total of trash they collected, an amount nearly double the weight most students guessed.

We hear a lot about the problems of the world, especially in D.C., with the polarizing political debates.  But on a cold and blustery afternoon, overlooking the Capital, Washington Monument, Navy Yard and National’s Park, a group of students showed the promise of the future, as they spent their spring break in service to their community and our ocean.

Find out how you can join us in the fight for a healthy ocean, no matter where you live.

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