Conservation & Science

What’s the deal with plastic pollution?

You’re probably hearing a lot about plastic bags and why Californians should vote YES on Prop 67, but the issue is not just about plastic bags. It’s about plastic pollution, and it affects all of us.

For example, did you know that plastic pollution is found in the ocean at every depth, and most marine life can’t escape it? Or that young people are fighting back on this issue—and some of their ideas are wildly successful?

Monterey Bay Aquarium explores this issue in our new podcast series, “Breaking Down:  The Problem with Plastic Pollution.”  The six-part series covers the impacts of plastic pollution—from threats to humans and wildlife to how the issue has energized students and policymakers.

The series features several of our own experts, as well as state legislators, scientists, artists, and celebrity and community activists. Each 15-minute podcast offers practical tips on how to reduce or eliminate plastic from your life—and the ocean.

The fourth episode, about plastic pollution’s impact on Latinos and other communities of color, is available in both English and Spanish.

The series is live on our website, and available via iTunes and SoundCloud.

Here’s a guide to the topics and guests featured in “Breaking Down: The Problem with Plastic Pollution”:

Part 1:  Get the scoop on why plastic is a problem, and plastics bags in particular. Guest are California Ocean Policy Manager Letise LaFeir, and Conservation Interpreter Sarah-Mae Nelson, a White House Champion of Change for Climate Education.


Part 2:  Learn about plastic pollution’s lasting impact on the ocean and wildlife. Guests are Director of Science Kyle Van Houtan, Curator of Aviculture Aimee Greenebaum, and actor and Lonely Whale Foundation founder Adrian Grenier and executive director Dune Ives.


Part 3:  We know plastic is abundant in the ocean—but is it in our seafood? Guests are Chelsea Rochman, assistant professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto, and Director of Ocean Policy Strategies Aimee David


Part 4:  Hear how plastic pollution affects Latino communities. Guests are Marce Gutierrez-Graudinš, founder and director of Azul, and Claudio Garzon, artist, ocean advocate and educator.


Parte 4 (en español):  Escucha como la contaminación por plásticos está afectando las comunidades Latinas.


Part 5:  Find out how young people are taking on plastic pollution—and winning. Guests are Teacher Programs Manager Mary Whaley, Senior Education Specialist Claudia Pineda-Tibbs, and Melati and Isabel Wijsen of Bye Bye Plastic Bags.


Part 6:  Learn how California can lead the nation on the issue of plastic bags. Guests are California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, authors of the bill that enacted the statewide ban on plastic bags.


Learn more about ocean plastic pollution, what we’re doing about it and how you can help.

Featured photo: A wild albatross investigates a littered toothbrush. Photo by NOAA/David Slater.

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