5.25 trillion pieces of plastic reside in our oceans compared to the 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. That means we have 13 times more pieces of plastic in our oceans than stars in our galaxy. This startling fact is the first thing you see when you visit the Debris Free Oceans webpage, a not-for-profit organization established by locals, Caiti and Jeremy Waks. Their long-time love of the water and the growing trash problem inspired them in 2014 to get more involved as well as find a fun and engaging way to educate Miami about the damaging effects of plastic pollution.

Debris Free Oceans focuses on the reductionist approach to motivate people to rethink disposable and single-use consumption by embracing lifestyles with more action and less clutter. To date, they have picked up over 23,000 pounds of plastics and have educated over 4,700 students in Miami-Dade County about plastic pollution and how to live zero-waste lifestyles. 

Through fun events like Keg and Clean where you’re rewarded with complimentary beer after cleaning up a neighborhood (as long as you bring your own cup), Debris Free Oceans has inspired a new way of thinking of sustainability.  And to get you started, they’ve created a zero-waste kit which consists of a reusable aluminum water bottle, reusable bamboo cutlery, and a compact reusable bag which can be purchased on their website.

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

  • When and why plastics were invented
  • Why plastics never really go away
  • What you can do to reduce your waste/single use plastics
  • How they created Debris Free Oceans
  • What they do to bring awareness to zero waste and plastic pollution in Miami
  • What you need to know about recycling 
  • What the city of Miami Beach is doing about single-use plastics and recycling 
  • The Florida plastic bag pre-emption law

We hope you enjoy the conversation,

Alex and Jeanette
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  • “In order to determine what is recyclable you always want to find out who that company is taking your goods.”
  • “Recycling is a for-profit business; they’re going to recycle what makes money for them to recycle.”
  • “Plastic bags are never recyclable, they actually break the machinery at the recycling plant.”
  • “It’s actually a misconception that going plastic-free will cost the business more, it’ll actually reduce the amount of trash that you’re producing as a business.”
  • “Recycling is obviously part of the solution, but I always like to remind people not to use recycling as a crutch to sustainability.”
  • “We have garbage entering our oceans at a rate of an entire garbage truck every minute, so by 2050 they estimate there’ll be more plastics in the ocean than fish by weight.”



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