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Surfrider Pacific Rim & The Problem With Plastic

A Big, Persistent Problem 

Every piece of plastic that has ever existed still exists. Isn’t that chilling? Every toothbrush, every razor, every Ziploc bag, every straw each of us has ever used—it’s all still out there somewhere. 

And that plastic has a tendency of ending up in our oceans, where it does serious damage to marine life. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “The most visible and disturbing impacts of marine plastics are the ingestion, suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of marine species. Marine wildlife such as seabirds, whales, fishes and turtles, mistake plastic waste for prey, and most die of starvation as their stomachs are filled with plastic debris. They also suffer from lacerations, infections, reduced ability to swim, and internal injuries.” 

In Tofino, this problem feels personal. In the average year, hundreds of thousands of visitors come here for a number of reasons, but most of those reasons have something very big in common: the Pacific. They come to surf, to swim, to see sea creatures big and small, to stroll our beautiful beaches. They’re here for the ocean, and so are the Tofitians who call this incredible place home. We love it. 

The Birth Of Surfrider

In 1984, another group of ocean lovers—surfers from Malibu, California—were concerned about environmental threats posed by escalating coastal development at their favorite surf spot. They decided to do something about it. And that something became Surfrider Foundation. 

Thirty-six years later, the Foundation has three Canadian chapters, all of which are based in BC. After all, our province has 25,725 kilometres of coastline, representing about 10% of Canada’s total coastline—which just so happens to be the longest in the world. Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection of that coastline, and all of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches, for all people. 

We’re proud that one of Canada’s Surfrider chapters is right here in Tofino / Ucluelet. Surfrider Pacific Rim is instrumental in preserving the pristine beaches that people come from all over the world to enjoy. At the nexus of their three strategic priorities is plastic—’rising above’ our reliance on it, and making sure that what plastic is produced is reused or recycled, and doesn’t make its way into the belly of a whale. 

How You Can Help

One of the most important—yet simple—ways Surfrider and its extensive network of volunteers do this is by physically removing the garbage that might otherwise end up in the water. 

You can join in by attending one of their organized beach cleanups, including Washed Up Wednesdays every Wednesday at Chesterman Beach. Find more details at Tourism Tofino. 

Or you can do your own small—but significant—part to keep Mackenzie Beach majestic by doing a DIY beach cleanup. Every room at Ocean Village is stocked with beach cleanup bags courtesy of Surfrider. Just 15 minutes of garbage collection could make a big difference to precious Pacific ecosystems. 

If you’re not in Tofino but want to know more about reducing your consumption of plastic, check out this post from WWF. 

You can also support Surfrider’s important work by donating here

Thank you for doing your part to keep our oceans and other waterways clean. It takes a village.