#NoMoreButts, Ocean Passports and Plastic Pollution: An Interview with Brian Yurastis

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Did you know that cigarette butts are the most common plastic pollution found on a beach? In this blog we will hear more from TerraMar about the impact cigarette butts and other plastic pollution is having on the marine environment and how Brian has come up with innovative solutions as a part of their #NoMoreButts campaign.

As a part of their commitment to ocean conservation, Brian helps to spread knowledge on ocean health and biodiversity, while helping individuals to take action to make a difference in their communities.

If you love the ocean as much as we do, then check out this week’s blog.

 

What is the non profit you work with and how was it founded?

 

The non profit I work for is a global non-profit dedicated to building a community of educated, empowered, and passionate ocean citizens. 

In short, we were founded on the idea that the ocean belongs to every single person on Earth, and that we should all have a say in how it is managed and protected for future generations to experience and enjoy. 

We provide our community with the latest ocean news, free educational resources, and local actions to make a difference for the health of our oceans.

Each day we unite people around the world through experiences with the ocean: from surfers to fishermen, scuba divers, scientists, and sailors. The ocean needs our help now more than ever, and any single person can make a real difference.

 

Can you tell us more about your platform and how you are making a difference?

 

Our strategy is simple -follow our mission. 

The most powerful way to make a difference for massive problems like overfishing, plastic pollution, and climate change is to break the problem down and work on a local level, targeting the source of the problem. 

We inspire people with ocean videos, photography, and news - and give them the tools to find actions in their local community to act on this inspiration. 

For example: I’m from New York and I see an article about how sea turtles are washing up on beaches this Summer because of ingestion of plastic bags. I can then search for an action I can take in my community to stop plastic pollution. 

 

What campaigns are you currently working on and where are your current focus areas?

 

We’re always working to promote sustainable management of the high seas - that’s a constant goal for us. So supporting sustainable fisheries and climate policy are big areas of concern. But more recently we’ve decided to focus our efforts on tackling a massive source of plastic pollution entering our oceans. A problem much bigger than plastic straws. It’s the single-most polluted item on beaches around the world, and poisons wildlife and our waters. 

2.3 million are littered every single minute. And when I tell you what it is, you’ll understand.

It’s cigarette butts…

Yeah, they’re actually a source of plastic pollution. And even worse - they’re the only normalized form of littering. Think about it, every smoker flicks their butt on the ground without contest. Fines are minimally enforced for this littering, and it’s equally dangerous to terrestrial environments (forest fires are a huge problem). 

 

Tell us more about your #NoMoreButts campaign?

 

How do you solve a problem as big as 4.5 trillion cigarette butts being littered every single year? You attack it at it’s source. The source of cigarette butt littering is that it’s socially acceptable and people have minimal alternative options. 

You can either flick your butt or carry it around with you and risk smelling like a walking cigarette. We provide solutions to both of these problems with our #NoMoreButts campaign. We spark the conversation online and inspire people to act on the problem within their community. 

At the same time we work with individuals, businesses, and beach cleanups to help them recycle this waste. Cigarette butts are made with cellulose acetate - a plastic - and can be recycled by our partners at TerraCycle, the world’s leader in the recycling of non-conventional waste. 

The goal is to provide as many people as possible with alternatives to littering their butts - in the form of receptacles and pocket ash trays.

The high seas need to be regulated and I cannot stress that enough. A few industrialized nations (namely China and Russia) commit atrocious crimes on the high seas and fuel illegal fishing that steals much-needed food from the rest of the world. These crimes include slavery, shark finning, and drug trafficking to name a few. 

We would also like to see plastic pollution phased out in the immediate future. Organizations around the world are doing a great job at this right now, building massive momentum in the right direction, and now is the time for TerraMar to play our part by targeting solutions to cigarette butt pollution. If we can tackle the most-littered item in the world, then we can prove that no problem is too big to be solved.