Learn how to report plastic pollution using your phone

The impacts of plastic pollution

According to the United Nations, “plastic waste is 80% of all marine pollution and around 8-10 million metric tons (about the same weight as 2 of the Great Pyramids of Egypt) of plastic ends up in the ocean every year.” There are currently approximately 50 to 75 trillion pieces of plastic and microplastics in the ocean. By 2050, plastic will likely overtake all fish in the sea. Plastic pollution is extremely harmful to marine life and ecosystems. Large pieces, like bags or fishing lines, can entangle and suffocate marine life, while smaller microplastics are ingested by marine animals, which can cause internal injuries and suffocation.

In this plastic free month of July, find out how surfers can reduce their plastic consumption and report plastic pollution at your local surf spot.

How you can help track plastic pollution using your phone

From plastic packaging to micro-plastics and fishing gear, plastic pollution comes in all shapes and sizes. And even the smallest forms have devastating consequences on surf ecosystems.

At Save The Waves, we need your help to better track issues as they arise in real time.

With our Save The Waves app, you can report plastic pollution immediately: take a photo, select the type of plastic pollution and geotag your location.

How does this help? Data collected from surfers, beachgoers and citizen scientists (like you!) allows us and our local partners to better understand the issues facing our coastlines – and better address these coastal threats. We respond to your reports through our local partners and share data with organizations and researchers to better map and understand the flow of plastic around the world.

Reporting plastic pollution that you have cleaned up yourself or during an organized beach cleanup is also useful data for us and our partners.

The difference between plastic packaging and microplastics

Plastic wrap

Single-use plastic such as bags, wrappers, straws, utensils, styrofoam, etc.


Microplastics are small pieces of plastic separated from larger pieces. They measure less than 5 millimeters (⅕ inches) in diameter. For reference, the eraser at the end of a pencil is about 5mm in diameter, so any piece of plastic you find smaller than a pencil eraser is microplastic. Microplastics can be found on beaches and floating above and below the surface of the ocean.

How surfers can reduce their plastic consumption

By now, most surfers are aware of avoiding single-use plastic bags and food containers. Using reusable water bottles like those made by Klean Kanteen is an easy place to start. But you can also choose surf accessories and equipment that use less plastic.

The next time you go to a surf shop to buy a wax bar, leash or traction mat, look for products that are not wrapped in plastic.

In addition to avoiding products packaged in single-use plastics, you can choose products made from building materials that use alternatives to plastic. Choose non-petroleum wax, non-petroleum traction pads, or fins and surfboards that use eco-friendly resins and recycled foam.

Eco-friendly surf wax from our friends Kassia and algae-based traction Firewire

Data Partner Highlight: Until the Coast is Clear

Till the Coast is Clear is a community benefit society in South Devon UK working to make the world a better place – one piece of plastic and one happy soul at a time. They regenerate places and people by ridding shorelines of plastic pollution using special recyclable boats and a fleet of kayaks made from recycled fishing nets, all staffed by volunteers, from all walks of life.

Till the Coast is Clear uses the Save The Waves app to identify coastal pollution in the South Devon region for future cleanups.

Learn more about www.tillthecoastisclear.co.uk/

Bryce K. Locke