Dear President Obama

Download: Albatross Coalition President Obama Letter 2017 01 16

Dear President Obama,
Thank you for expanding the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument to the largest in the world and, at the September Our Oceans Conference, designating the first Atlantic Ocean Monument – the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. We, the Save The Albatross Coalition, were also pleased to hear you say that humanity is “…asking far too much of our ocean in asking it to adapt to us.”

You, also praised Midway Atoll restoration efforts, noting the island is now teeming with three million birds. In fact, Midway has the largest Laysan Albatross colony in the world. Unfortunately, these birds are threatened with extinction because of the unintended consequences of our discarded plastics. A two-year study funded by the EPA reported that of the 500,000 Albatross chicks born on Midway Atoll each year, 200,000 die, most from dehydration or starvation. Many in this group had twice as many plastic pieces in their stomachs as those that died from other causes. Although adults can regurgitate the plastic, chicks cannot.

In addition, an estimated 100,000 other marine animals, such as whales, seals, birds and turtles, die every year after becoming entangled in or ingesting plastic debris. According to a recent study, by 2050 the amount of plastic in the ocean is expected to outweigh the amount of fish, pound for pound.

The Midway Atoll Albatross chicks are our “canaries in the coal mine”. Because our nation is one of the highest contributors of ocean plastic, the USA must, as you said, share the “… sacrifices broadly and fairly and justly…” We believe the genius of our scientists and engineers, along with the creative ingenuity and wisdom of our citizens, can lead the way. But we must mobilize rapidly to solve this now ubiquitous problem.

Accordingly, we are calling for a multi-faceted, well-organized and coordinated federal, state and local plan employing common sense, practical solutions through legislation, regulation, policy changes and public education to result in a swift reduction of the plastic input into the ocean by 2020.

We propose that this plan employ the following strategies:  

  1. Waste minimization by consumers, businesses and the government including the avoidance of single use products;
  2. Leashed bottle caps and other extended producer responsibility (cradle to cradle) initiatives for polluting, hard-to-recycle and/or toxic products;
  3. Making single use plastics and polystyrene illegal to produce, sell and/or use in coastal states;
  4. Utilization of government, private and corporate funding of infrastructure – such as effective sewer grates and filter systems, water wheels and containment booms at river mouths and bays;
  5. Stepped up cleanup efforts in our sensitive river, stream and wetlands ecosystems, on our beaches and along our coastlines, in our protected waters and monuments such as Midway Atoll;
  6. Grants to study and implement solutions to the problem of land-borne plastics that make their way to the ocean, including studies of water treatment, for example, for the reduction of microplastics that go unimpeded from washing machines into the ocean, becoming part of the ocean food web;
  7. Expanded education of corporation, state and municipality officials; fisherman, boaters, consumers and children about plastic pollution and environmentally sound alternatives;
  8. Mandatory recyclability of plastics and warning labels on single use plastic bottles, where permitted, for example: “Danger: The Improper Disposal of this Bottle and Cap Harms Wildlife – Must be Recycled.
  9. Mandatory adequate and effective waste disposal containers and collection along all U.S. waterways and coastlines.

Again, we are sincerely grateful for your environmental leadership. We also appreciate your closing remarks at the Our Ocean Conference; namely, that we must “insist on human agency — to not give in to hopelessness, or to suggest that somehow these problems are just too big. We can solve them. We just have to have the will to pursue collective action.

We share in your belief that it will take a sincere and significant investment of time and money and heightened diligence by all people, corporations and governments in all countries and in all parts of the ocean. And we must start right now.

We look forward to discussing this with you and your staff. If you would like links to the studies above or any other references, please contact us at the emails below.



Captain Charles C. Moore
Founder, Algalita Marine Research and Education
Long Beach, CA
Neil Seldman
President, Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Washington, D.C.

Boomerang Alliance – Australia

On the 21st February 2015, after a persistent campaign by the Boomerang Alliance, the NSW government committed to introducing a container deposit scheme (CDS) by mid-2017. The Premier Mike Baird announced he wanted the best practise CDS in the world.

For the thousands of people and passionate communities which had lobbied their members of parliament, organised clean up days and liaised with our hard working staff and volunteers, the victory for CDS was truly inspiring.


Mermaids – Ocean Clean Wash

Did you know you are contributing to marine pollution by washing your clothes? Every wash of synthetic fabrics or composed fabrics (like cotton/polyester) discharges plastic fibers less than a millimeter in length. Wastewater treatment plants let them through. Fibers found on shorelines match with material used in clothing; polyester, acrylic and nylon. The impact of plastic micro- and nanofibers on the (sea) ecosystem has to be reduced. MERMAIDS, co-financed by the Life+ 2013 programme of the European Union, is looking for solutions. On this site you learn about MERMAIDS and how industry and households can be part of the solution.

What can you do?

Every year, Europeans do around 36 billion loads of washing and most of them contain synthetic clothes, releasing millions of non-degradable fibres into the waste water. Most of these fibres slip undetected through water treatment plants and out to the sea.

Who are the major culprits? Acrylic, nylon and polyester. One polyester fleece jacket sheds almost a million fibres per wash. An acrylic scarf: 300,000 fibres. Nylon socks: 136,000 fibres. Eventually, fish mistake these fibres for plankton when they end up in the oceans and seas. Around 65% of the shrimp in the North Sea contain synthetic fibres. And, guess what? We are at the top of the food chain, so they end up in our plates.

With small changes in your washing habits, you can reduce the amount of fibres you shed:

  • Fill up your washing machine to the max: washing a full load results in less friction between the clothes and, therefore, less fibres are released.
  • Use washing liquid instead of powder: the ‘scrub’ function of the grains of the powder result in loosening the fibres of clothes more than with liquid.
  • Use a fabric softener: some ingredients in fabric softeners reduce friction between fibres so the release decreases.
  • Wash at a low temperature: when clothes are washed at a high temperature some fabrics are damaged, leading to the release of fibres.
  • Avoid long washings: long periods of washing cause more friction between fabrics, which supposes more tearing of the fibres.
  • Dry spin clothes at low revs: higher revolutions increase the friction between the clothes, resulting in higher chances of fibres loosening.
  • Avoid buying synthetic clothes and look for wool, cotton, linen, silk, cashmere or other natural fabrics.

Story of Stuff – Micro Bead Ban

Plastic Microbeads:  Ban The Bead!

Microplastics may be small, but they’re causing big problems for our environment and our health. These tiny pieces of plastic used in personal care products are designed to go down the drain and into our lakes, rivers, and oceans — by the billions every day. They absorb toxins in the water, are eaten by marine life, and can make their way up the food chain all the way to our dinner plates.

We knew it wasn’t enough to simply avoid certain products – we didn’t want them to be sold at all. That’s why the Story of Stuff Project waged a major campaign to ban microbeads in California and then the whole United States in 2015 – and won! Thanks to our Community members flexing their citizen muscles, by 2017 it will be illegal to sell a personal care product containing plastic microbeads – a huge victory for our waterways and public health. This policy provides a precedent setting model for the rest of the world to replicate and is an important stepping stone to tackling plastic pollution in our oceans. Learn about banning the bead here!

Plastic Pollution Coalition – Go Plastic Free

Plastic Pollution Coalition is a global alliance of individuals, organizations, businesses and policymakers working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, the ocean and the environment. The Plastic Pollution Coalition mission is to stop plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, the ocean and the environment. PPC was founded in 2009 as a platform to amplify a common message through strategic planning and communication. Our more than 400 member organizations and a growing coalition of individuals seek to increase awareness and understanding of the plastic pollution problem, and to find sustainable solutions. We aim to empower more people and more organizations to take action to stop plastic pollution and to live plastic-free.

Take The Pledge – Go PLASTIC FREE – There are many ways you can help stop plastic pollution.