“We are finding plastics in what should be totally natural areas. This is not only unpleasant, but also we know that plastics are deadly for wildlife.”
Marcus Hinz, the executive director of the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, says he has both a professional and a personal stake in fighting plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean and on the beaches of the Oregon Coast. The Oregon Coast Visitors Association serves as the voice of the coastal visitors industry and conducts stakeholder outreach – with businesses, nonprofits, and even government agencies – to listen to their concerns and to craft policy action around that collective voice. Marcus explained how the Oregon Coast Visitors Association is interested in creating a culture of voluntourism on the coast. “We know that a large portion of visitors feel good when they can contribute to the communities they visit. The effort to collect marine debris and use it for the creation of public art is part of this voluntourism.” The Oregon Coast Visitors Association is partnering with SOLVE, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to protecting and preserving Oregon’s wildlife and natural spaces, to work on diverting marine debris that is collected as part of beach cleanups to have it sorted and cleaned for the use of local artists, instead of going to landfills. Marcus says that the Oregon Coast Visitors Association hopes to show the issue of marine debris in a more positive light, in order to facilitate protection and preservation of the Oregon Coast and the wildlife that inhabits it, to educate about plastic pollution, and to give people another reason to travel to the Oregon Coast and participate in voluntourism.
In his personal life, Marcus is also encountering the effects of plastic pollution. Marcus owns his own kayaking guide service called Kayak Tillamook, which has been operating for 14 years and serves the entire Northern Coast of Oregon. “We are finding plastics in what should be totally natural areas. This is not only unpleasant, but also we know that plastics are deadly for wildlife that live in the habitats we paddle through.” Marcus says that fighting plastic pollution is important to him not only for providing the best experience for his kayaking customers, but also for protecting marine wildlife.
Marcus Hinz chose to live in Oregon when deciding where to complete his education. “The reason I moved here to Oregon was because I felt like I shared a lot of values with Oregonians, from the Oregon Beach Bill which established public ownership of land along the Oregon Coast, to the Urban Growth Boundary which allows each of the state’s cities to create a land use planning line to control urban expansion onto farm and forest lands and the public transportation systems in metropolitan areas, there is a strong ethos of stewardship in this state. And with that stewardship, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association wants to expand the protection of what people love and what people care about in Oregon.”