If you actively make an effort to change things, like cleaning up the ocean, you might ask yourself in those quiet contemplative moments, is my voice heard? Do my actions truly make a difference? This week a couple of things happened that helped to clarify this for myself.

mcdonald's plastic pollution recycling brian wanamakerBlue Ocean had just posted an article on numerous individuals and grassroots organizations petitioning the world’s largest food chain McDonald’s. What did they want? For the chain to eliminate the use of plastic straws and packaging. Several days later, McDonald’s announced that all of their 40,000 restaurants will be recycling and using sustainable customer food packaging by 2025 .

Now, I am not suggesting in any way that our post had anything to do with McDonald’s actions. But, the concerted efforts of a lot of individuals over time certainly did.

As Francesca DeBiase, an McDonald’s executive, said, “Our customers have told us that packaging waste is the top environmental issue they would like us to address. Our ambition is to make changes our customers want and to use less packaging, sourced responsibly and designed to be taken care of after use.”

There could not be a clearer validation of our efforts than this statement. We might all be small voices but when heard together it can form a roar that no one or no corporation can ignore. Here’s thanks to all of those small voices that signed a petition letting McDonald’s know what our world needed.


Chloe’s Story

Our family lives near a small rural community in Quebec, Canada. Our youngest, 11-year-old Chloe came home several days ago and excitedly announced that while her English class was watching a documentary, she saw someone that she recognized. When she exclaimed, the class asked why.

sylvia earle -kids at cpaws event april 2015Several years ago, Sylvia Earle gave a lecture in Ottawa for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. We brought our girls to meet her because Sylvia is a friend of my wife Laurie Wilson. She had been interviewed by Laurie in our Blue Ocean 2015 Summit. (photo – CPAWS)

The documentary that so captivated Chloe and Ms. Bardell’s class was “A Plastic Ocean.” Sylvia was interviewed in the film about the impact of plastic pollution on the world’s ocean. I’m sure that the makers of this documentary hoped that they would be reaching millions of people with their message of ocean conservation.


Your Message Has Been Heard!

So today, I am telling Director Craig Leeson and the “The Plastic Ocean” crew that their efforts have been validated. In a small elementary school, in a rural community, in the forests of Quebec, a thousand miles from the ocean, children heard their message. The teacher asked each Grade 5 student to write an essay on how “A Plastic Ocean” personally affects them. How are they going to use the film’s message to change their lifestyle? They are asking the question: how can I change the way I use plastic?



You can watch “A Plastic Ocean” on Netflix. It’s message is disturbing. There are some very heartbreaking scenes, especially those of seabird chicks starving from stomachs bloated with plastic debris. But it should be a message heard and seen by people around the world. Our ocean requires nothing less.

P.S. Be sure not to miss Richard Attenborough’s series Blue Planet II and the documentary Chasing Coral. Both are compelling and provocative looks at ocean issues.

A lot of stories cross our desk, but not many are as personal as Chloe’s, so I thought we should share it with you. Remember our favorite quote from a very good friend, “Ocean Country” author Liz Cunningham: “what if I really lived, as if my voice mattered!”

By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network


See These Related Articles On Plastic Pollution:

Great Britain leads the way in fighting Plastic Pollution
Life Beyond Plastics: Make Your Next Vacation Sustainable!
Top Ocean Stories of 2017, Part 3: Ocean Plastic Pollution
Life Beyond Plastics: How Fashion is Killing Our Rivers
Life Beyond Plastics: Not Everything that Glitters is Good
Life Beyond Plastics: How Yoga Pants Are Destroying the Ocean!
Life Beyond Plastics: Bee Kind Wraps
Top Ocean Stories of 2017: Part 5, Can We Save Coral Reefs?
Top Ocean Stories of 2017: Part 6, Amazing, Amusing and Astounding!


How To Get More Ocean-Hearted Intel Delivered To Your Inbox!

We believe ocean lovers can change the world. If you care about the health of the ocean and want to do something about it, then connect with the Blue Ocean tribe: Our growing community of ocean change-makers is turning ocean lovers into ocean leaders. It starts with you. Join us!