Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici

“Everyone can make a difference on this issue by reducing their use of plastics, raising awareness of the problem of marine debris and reaching out to their elected officials.”

In July of 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the “Save Our Seas,” bill that gives more resources to states and local communities to clean up ocean debris. One of the driving forces behind its passage? Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, Co-Chair of the House Oceans Caucus– a position she said she’s honored to have as someone who represents coastal communities in District One here in Oregon.

“I am really concerned about ocean health. Marine debris can take many forms: it can be big pieces like the ones that washed up on our shores after the tsunami in Japan, or it can be smaller pieces, which are the ones that are very concerning because they really impact the health of the ocean and the health of marine wildlife.”

Congresswoman Bonamici has learned a lot about marine debris and plastics in the ocean. She attended a plastics lab display in DC, sponsored by NOAA, showing the impacts of plastic pollution on the ocean and has met with a delegation from Thailand to discuss a global response to this issue. Learning more has only made her more motivated to tackle the issue. “8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. When people hear that, they get concerned and want to know how they can help.”

Her advice? “If everyone steps up and changes their habits and practices, it’s going to make a difference. Sometimes with environmental issues people feel like “Well, what can I do, I’m just one person?”—but everyone can make a difference on this issue by reducing their use of plastics, raising awareness of the problem of marine debris and reaching out to their elected officials.”

She said that the more elected officials hear from their constituents about an issue, the more likely they are to do something about it. So call your local, state and federal legislators and let them know you are concerned about plastic pollution in the ocean so we can take steps to clean up what’s there and prevent more from going into the ocean in the first place.

“Certainly here in Oregon, our pristine coast is a really important part of our economy with fishing and tourism and people want our beaches and our ocean to be clean.”DSCN0265

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