Press Release : Ban the Bead


*Press conference scheduled in an effort to eliminate the sale of hazardous microplastics*

VANCOUVER, B.C., July 17, 2014 – Surfrider Foundation Vancouver (SFV) along with Vancouver MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, will be holding a press conference at 11am on Wednesday, July 23 to raise awareness of the devastating effects of microbeads. Joining Spencer Chandra Herbert will be Matthew Unger, ocean enthusiast and Chair of SFV. A weather dependant advisory will be sent out to confirm whether the conference will take place on the corner of Denman and Beach Avenue beside Cactus Club. Unger explains that the issue cannot be ignored, “Microbeads show up in our marine environment as they are exfoliating ingredients in many beauty care products (face wash, toothpaste and body wash) and get washed down the drain during use. Microbeads pass through wastewater and sewage treatment plants and enter the ocean where they are ingested by marine life. The toxins and plastic particles make their way back up the food chain and onto our dinner plates. This is a dangerous cycle that will affect human health.” Surfrider’s “Rise Above Plastics” program aims to reduce the impacts of plastic pollution in the marine environment. The foundation’s goal is to work with Herbert to push for a policy change to ban the sale and use of microbeads in Canada – starting with the beautiful province of British Columbia leading the charge. “Europe already has these plastics banned and the U.S. is working on this,” notes Unger. “It’s time Canada seriously considers how these micro beads are effecting our oceans, and us.”

About Surfrider

Surfrider Foundation is a global environmental non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches. Our Vancouver chapter is 100% volunteer run by everyday people like you, and works to ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come.

Contact Information

Matthew Unger
Chair, Surfrider Foundation Vancouver
604 512 1592



VANCOUVER, B.C., July 21, 2014 – Surfrider Foundation Vancouver along with Vancouver MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert invite you to a press conference scheduled in effort to eliminate hazardous microplastics from our oceans.

Date: Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: The corner of Denman and Beach beside Cactus Club
Vancouver, B.C.

Speakers: Vancouver MLA, Spencer Chandra Herbert
Chair of Surfrider Foundation Vancouver, Matthew Unger

Media kits will be available on site.
Participants will be available for interviews following the event.

About Surfrider

Surfrider Foundation is a global environmental non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches. Our Vancouver chapter is 100% volunteer run by everyday people like you, and works to ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come.

Contact Information
Matthew Unger
Chair, Surfrider Foundation Vancouver
604 512 1592

Rise Above Plastic



















We all want to help protect our oceans, waves, and beaches, but sometimes knowing

where to start can feel a bit difficult. Large plastic bags, bottles, and debris on our

beaches and in our oceans is easy to see. Microplastics, however, pose a greater

challenge, as they are only visible under a microscope. Formed as a consequence of

the breakdown of larger plastic material, microplastics have become a paramount issue

for the marine environment. Resembling phytoplankton, and ingestible by marine life

from shellfish to whales, microplastics have contributed to deleterious effects close to

home. B.C. researches now consider resident killer whales in the Salish sea the most

polluted marine animals on earth.

According to Peter Ross, a former research scientist with the federal Institute of Ocean

Sciences, microplastics are recorded at a mean of 7,630 particles per cubic meter in

Queen Charlotte Sound. Species forming the base of the food web mistakenly ingest

microplastics which can lead to false satiation, causing organisms to starve.

Additionally, it is suggested that when fish and other aquatic species ingest

microplastics, transfer of toxins through the food chain can occur. While this may seem

daunting, many small actions can bring on a large change. Join us in helping to protect

where we play, and rise above plastics!

Rise above plastics mission:

To reduce the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about

the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics

and the recycling of all plastics

What can you do?

Plastic shows up in all sorts of items from take out containers to personal care products.

Things we use daily like facial cleansers may contain plastic particles, and while they

help to exfoliate our skin, they are harmful to our oceans. Products are rinsed down

the drain and flushed into our oceans. With summer around the corner, here are few

easy things you can do to help reduce your plastic footprint and keep plastics out of our

marine environment.

1)Check product labels for ingredients. Plastics can appear as: Polyethylene /

Polythene (PE), polypropylene (PP) or Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Download

the “beat the microbead” app, which allows you to scan the

barcode of products for plastic microbeads. Try alternatives such as crushed seeds from

apricots and cocoa beans.

2)Choose to reuse. Opt for cloth shopping bags over plastic, and glass or metal

reusable bottles for water.

3) We all like to get takeout from time to to time, but styrofoam has become a major

problem for our oceans. Fortunately, there are great solutions here in Vancouver. The

Tiffin project, for example, is a non profit on a mission to lessen yearly takeout waste.

Learn more about the Tiffin project here:

4)Bring your own to go mug the next time you get coffee, smoothie or to go beverage.

5)Pack your lunch or beach picnic in a reusable lunch bag or box, rather than plastic

sandwich bags.

6)Get involved. We would love to see you at a beach clean up! Check out or eventbrite

and Facebook and register for one of our upcoming monthly beach cleanups.

7)Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills.

8)Word of mouth. Spread the word to friends and family about why it is important to

Rise Above Plastics!


Wright, S. L., Thompson, R. C., and Galloway, T. S. (2013). The physical

impacts of microplastics on marine organisms: A review. Environmental

Pollution 178: 483–492.

Browne, M. A., Dissanayake, A., Galloway, T. S., Lowe, D. M., and

Thompson, R.C. (2008). Ingested microscopic plastic translocates to

circulatory system of the mussel, Mytilus edulis (L.). Environmental Sci.

Tech. American Chemical Society: Drake Circus, United Kingdom.

Thompson, R. C., Moore, C. J., vom Saal, F. S., Swan, S. H. (2009). Plastics,

the environment and human health: Current consensus and future trends.

Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 364(1526): 2153-2166.

Rios Mendoza, L. M., and Evans, C. Y. (2013). Plastics are invading not only

the ocean but also the Great Lakes. American Chemical Society meeting,

New Orleans.




Get to know a volunteer: Brian Berry talks waste audits

Meet Brian Berry, Surfrider Vancouver volunteer and recent graduate from the Environmental Protection Technology program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. We quizzed Brian on what it means to volunteer and how waste audits help us help our oceans. Brian Berry, Surfrider volunteer

Q. When did your passion for the preservation of our environment begin?

A. Firstly, my father’s mentoring and wisdom and respect for the outdoors really opened my eyes to the importance of our surroundings. I grew up in the Mojave desert in a small town of 900 people called Inyokern. The dessert was my backyard and I was taught to keep your back yard clean. While out hunting we would always pick up our own and other’s trash. My family also adopted a portion of the highway close to town. It was our responsibility to keep the sides of the highway clear of garbage.

Secondly, in the United States, there is a television station call the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS). The show Nature would air and explored other environments on the planet. Because I grew up the desert, seeing the planet’s diverse ecosystems was so exciting to me! It seemed like exploring jungles, rivers and rain forests were actually filmed on other planets.

And thirdly, Paul Richard, the Chair of the Environmental Protection Technology program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University really put his faith and encouragement in me to begin my education and career helping the environment.


Q. How long have you been involved with the Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Chapter?

A. The first beach cleanup I attended was at Wreck Beach in March 2011. I have been attending beach cleanups and monthly meetings ever since.


Q. What inspired you to attend beach cleanups?

A. My love for the beach and desire to take care of them.


Q. What do you like best about beach cleanup events?

A. They are fun to attend. It’s also very satisfying to search out trash and dispose of it properly. Every piece collected is one less that ends up in the ocean.


Q. What is a beach waste audit?

A. A waste audit is a somewhat scientific process where a section of the beach is marked off and we collect the trash within that area. The size of the section is measured from the high tide line to the low tide line and stretches along the shoreline for (X) meters. The trash collected is then sorted, counted, and documented.


Q. How long does it take to conduct a beach waste audit from start to finish?

Jericho transect

A. If there are three or four people helping, the trash collection takes about 1.5 hours as it takes awhile to pick up all the micro trash. Sorting of the trash lasts 20 minutes and then it takes one person about an hour to input the data into an Excel document; so about 3 hours in total.

Q. What inspired you to start conducting waste audits?

A. I first learned about waste audits in my waste management course at Kwantlen which included a whole campus waste audit as one of the final assignments. The entire class counted all the garbage on campus. I thought it was interesting to discover and record the things people threw away.


Q. Why is the data collected from a waste audit important? How can the data be used to increase awareness of plastic pollution?

A. Waste audits help to increase awareness and create a metric for people to understand garbage in different way. We live in a result based world where data and numbers speak volumes when trying to get your point across.


Q. What has been the most interesting or bizarre plastic waste you have come across while cleaning beaches?

A. During the November 2013 clean up at Jericho Beach I found a lot, and I mean a lot of plastic tips for small cigars. It was strange because I found them all in a very localized area.


Q. Will you be conducting a beach audit at Surfrider's next beach clean on January 25th?

A. Absolutely. I hope to conduct a waste audit at every beach cleanup that is organized by Surfrider Vancouver. Creating and building a database will help our cause tremendously. January 25th is also my birthday so I’m planning on bringing all my friends to celebrate.


Q. How can people learn more about beach clean ups and waste audits?

A.The Surfrider foundation and the 5 Gyres websites are good start.

(Ed. note - Join Surfrider Vancouver for our Habitat Island Cleanup & Volunteer Orientation January 25th to see a transect demonstration. Download the full results of the Jericho Beach waste audit)


Q. Where do you see yourself in five years?

A. Hopefully as an environmental manger in a small waste management firm or environmental consulting company.


Please contact Brian at if you have any further questions. He is also available for pro bono environmental consulting.


Ten Tips to Kick the Plastic Habit

marine plastic pollution

Here are ten handy tips to help you reduce your plastic footprint:

1. Bring a canvas reusable bag for groceries and other shopping.

2. Buy fruits and veggies loose instead of prepackaged. Most fruits and veggies come with their own biodegradable packaging (skins).

3. Buy from the bulk section and use reusable bulk containers.

4. Buy in concentrate and look for stores in your area that offer refills.

5. Buy close to home. Food that travels a long way from where it is produced to where it is eventually bought and consumed often requires more packaging (and more fuel to transport). Local food, especially from your local farmers market, often comes completely packaging free.

6. Avoid single use plastic drink bottles. Bring your own reusable water bottle and refill with some of the world's best and safest tap water.

7. Avoid 'convenience' foods. Prepackaged single serving are inconvenient for the ocean because of their excess packaging.

8. Eat in. Takeout containers are often made of polystyrene foam, which is environmentally damaging to produce, and one of the main types of marine debris. If you choose takeout, bring your own container. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate.

9. Buy secondhand, or share and donate items with useful life remaining. If something has already been produced, the damage is already done.  Repair damaged or broken items.

10. Recycle. It's not a perfect solution, but some plastics can be turned into other useful products before their eventual end of life in the landfill.

Every time you use less plastic, you help the oceans. What's your creative way to use less plastic?

Top 3 reasons to join Surfrider Vancouver's Executive Committee

It's that time again. Time for some fresh faces to step up to an executive role in the local chapter. Why should you get involved? Here are the Top 3 reasons to run for a position on the executive committee:

1. Take local action on global issues

Surfrider is a global non-profit, but the real action takes place at the grassroots level to protect and enjoy our oceans, waves, and beaches.

Every year we participate in dozens of community events! Examples of awesome events we've taken part of are Charles Moore's book tour, the Rip Curl Pro Tofino, countless beach & mountain cleanups, film premieres, Paul Watson at the Projecting Change Film Fest, PaddleFest, Boardstock, Crankworx, and so many more! Surfrider is active in the community and as an executive you'll be right in the thick of the action, making great things happen.

2. Connect with great people

Surfrider volunteers are known to pick up trash (even on rainy days), go plastic free, make their own yogurt, organize events, enjoy a perfect day at the beach, develop educational materials for kids, give each other high fives, test water samples, and so much more. We're a pretty okay bunch if we do say so ourselves. As an executive you'll connect with passionate like-minded people.

3. Get work experience

Are you in school and looking for real world experience? Maybe you have a job but want to get hands on learning in a new role? Enjoy the flexibility and personal satisfaction that comes from spending time on a cause you care about.

And besides, it's fun!

We will be holding executive elections during our next chapter meeting, Dec 11th. See the Events page for time and place information.