POP x NC Wildlife Federation

On August 19, 2019 Plastic Ocean Project along with Bonnie Monteleone the founder of POP teamed up with the NC Wildlife Federation at Greenfield Lake in Wilmington,NC to have their first clean up of the semester! They picked up a total of 67.59lbs of trash that would later be researched further by the research committee of Plastic Ocean Project.

-Cassidy Edge, Social Media Coordinator (Plastic Ocean Project)


Sustain with Sound 2019


One day. One day every year. People from all over gather. To share one passion, one purpose, they come together and support the planet. On April 27th, 2019 Wilmingtons largest sustainable music festival completed its goal of creating a happier and healthier planet. Multiple Vendors, food trucks, bands, and fans gathered to support and educate each other on how to protect our planet and support each other while doing it. Katy Nickel UNCWPOPs former President did an AMAZING job at creating this amazing night and finding so many people to help support her on this. This night was an eye opener for many and changed so many hearts for the better of this planet.

-Cassidy Edge, Social Media Coordinator (Plastic Ocean Project)

Sustain with sound is always one of the best events of the year, but this year was especially great! Expanding to a larger venue created an insanely cool atmosphere where we could all dance the night away listening to some awesome local musicians. My personal favorite aspect of the festival is the low/ zero waste portion! It can be crazy to figure out how to keep everything with no waste, but Katy Nickel and POP have the most passionate minds for the job! We have an amazing community here and every year it makes me so excited to see it grow bigger and bigger!

-Savannah Simpson, Vice President/Secretary (Plastic Ocean Project)

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There’s only one way to describe Sustain With Sound - the time of my life. Nothing feels better than jamming out all day with my family of POP! Especially when the whole event is zero-waste! Seriously! I can’t express how awesome it feels to be a part of this great organization and establishing events like this - the payout is tremendous. Having so many people come out and support our organization, Pineapple Entertainment, and Wilmington bands is one of the best ways to truly raise awareness for our oceans and promoting sustainable venues, events, companies, and organizations, and genuinely reflects the entire Wilmington community. There’s nothing like spending all day with the people you love, for a cause you love, with the bands and artists I love!

-Sam Shores, Videographer (Plastic Ocean Project)

4th Annual Plastics to Art Gala


The art behind the UNCW POP’s 4th Annual Art Gala wasn’t just the amazing pieces made by students and locals alike, but the people coming together. The whole venue was perfectly set up by Angela at the Edward Teach Brewery gathering crowds of people to check out some stellar art made for a great cause. It brought students, parents, artists, and strangers together to raise awareness of plastic pollution in our oceans through the various styles and mediums of so many artists. The whole night was filled with great food, great live music, and wonderful people. The payoff was tremendous. Bringing people together because of the hard work behind Angela and everyone else to set the event up was a beautiful thing to witness, especially with the cause of saving our oceans through the creativity and effort of the artists to give a visual to the mindset of our community.

-Sam Shores, Videographer (Plastic Ocean Project) 


Saturday April 6th was a night to remember. We traded our bare-feet and beach sweep bags for nice clothes and a glass of wine, or an Edward Teach beer of course! This was my first Plastic Ocean’s Project Art Gala and it will not be my last. The POP officers transformed the upstairs of Edward Teach Brewery into an incredible exhibit of photography, paintings, and artwork made from plastic. There was a piece to admire in every bit of the room. I think it was very beneficial to have the Art Gala at Edward Teach because it was still open to the public, therefore, customers could wonder upstairs to take a look around and it created an opportunity for people to learn about all that POP does. I even saw several people who wondered upstairs, buy large pieces of art. I bought a picture of a shark’s mouth that was stitched with a polluted plastic bag. Alex Marstall, President of Surfrider and I ended the night was an on-camera interview about the event. We talked about how we love that POP takes a whole event to bring the community together and to show off local artists. 

-Morgan Smith, Vice President of UNCW Surfrider

The Fourth Annual Plastics to Art Gala at Edward Teach Brewery was an incredible event to be a part of. It is one of the most amazing feelings to see an event that myself and UNCW POP spent so much time planning, pay off. We featured amazing art from student and local artists and the atmosphere of the event was perfect. The art gala is such a special event for me because it allows my two passions to come together, fighting plastic pollution and making art, and it is a beautiful thing to be able to share that with the community. Plastic pollution is such a big problem that we are facing in the world and the art gala is the perfect place to showcase that in a light hearted and beautiful way. I cannot thank everyone enough for their support and help with this event. Bringing people together over shared love for art and the environment is an incredible thing.

-Angela Arce, Art Committee Coordinator (Plastic Ocean Project)

B3 Week (Ban Beach Butts)

UNCW POP's research committee hosted B3 Week on UNCW's campus as the kick-off of a larger movement to raise awareness of the problem of cigarette litter on North Carolina's beaches. Ban Beach Butts, affectionately known as B3, is a campaign to increase public awareness of the issue and bolster support for an eventual proposal to the North Carolina General assembly making smoking on the beach illegal statewide. It is not common knowledge that the filters on cigarettes are made of plastic and, because cigarettes make up 38% of all litter found on beaches, it is causing a huge marine debris problem. 

The members of UNCW plastic ocean project conducted many events on campus and in the community. They spent the weekend interacting with children at the Fort Fisher aquarium to educate the next generation about the dangers of marine debris and how they can help stop it. During the week they hosted a campus litter sweep and a beach sweep at Johnnie Mercer's pier on Wrightsville Beach. They also screened A Plastic Oceanat Waterman's Brewery, a favorite of the locals and a frequent location of environmentally related videos. Tabling on campus and educating the community during the one week resulted in a banner filled with signatures displaying support and over 150 signatures on the letter of intent that will be presented to NC legislators. 

-Megan Romanchok, Research Committee Coordinator (Plastic Ocean Project)


REUSE! Box Truck Tiny House

In Spring 2019 UNCW POP invited Alex Eaves, "reuse" expert and founder of STAY VOCAL, to Wilmington on his NC tour across the state with the REUSE! Box Truck (check this video out!) Upon visiting the UNCW campus, Alex spread the message of REUSE, explained in his documentary REUSE! Because You Can't Recycle the Planet. His message was simple: live more with less and find new purpose in all things. Today, more and more of our "stuff" is wasted and discarded, where its final resting place becomes the landfill or even worse, the environment. And recycling is not the answer. We can not solely rely on a collapsing US recycling system to fix our waste issue (news flash! China isn't buying our recycling anymore!) So instead, we have to use less and continue to reuse what we already have. Not the easiest thing to do in the fast-paced world that we live in--but indeed a humble way to live our lives for the sake of our planet. While on campus, Alex invited students to take a few minutes from their stroll on Chancellor's Walk to get a tour of the tiny box truck; what was once only a 98 sq.ft box truck is now Alex's home.


Many were amazed at the fact that someone could live in the way that Alex did. Some called it "smaller than their freshman dorm." And it was true, not everyone could live like Alex, but maybe everyone could rethink their own lives. In Alex's home, every inch was an example of ways to repurpose and reuse. Even his STAY VOCAL shirts on sale here, were garments heading to the shredder or the landfill before Alex saved them.  To end the day, Alex and UNCW POP did a Q&A alongside his documentary to showcase the way people all across the country are embodying the REUSE! lifestyle. This is important for UNCW POP. While the focus of plastic pollution is often the destructive nature of plastic in our oceans, we forget that it is the consumer that has the power to stop this environmental disaster. Plastic or any product--use less of it! because recycling is not going to save the planet, not even close. 

-Eric Dzenis, President (Plastic Ocean Project)

UNCW POP Puppet Show

On March 20th, the POP Education Committee along with UNCW POPs very own Bonnie Monteleone went to Cape Fear Academy to perform a puppet show that emphasized the importance of our beaches and oceans and how we can protect all of the marine life that live here. Before the show even started many students and teachers that passed by the classroom were fascinated with the background created by Bonnie along with the puppets that were used for the show. When the 1st graders arrived they were so pumped to be introduced to each of the characters and all have a turn at holding their new friends.

We talked about each specific animal and the role their species plays; how long it takes them to reproduce, what they typically eat, where they live, and how our plastic consumption affects them! All of the students were very knowledgable about plastic bags and knew that when floating in the ocean they look like jellyfish to sea turtles which is one of their main food sources. We were also able to teach them many new things like, that whales are filter feeders and that when they go to eat they ingest plastic on accident while they’re trying to eat plankton. Also that many birds, like pelicans, can get stuck and suffocate on things like balloons that have been released into the air. The class was shocked to see the detrimental effects of marine debris on their puppet friends. They all promised to do their best to consume less plastic and many of them even shared their own experiences of refusing single-use plastics, like straws at restaurants. This was an awesome experience and We are so thankful we got the opportunity to share our knowledge with the future generation. Education is so important and it is all worth it when the students become interested and ready to make that change!

- Shelby Cobb, Education Committee Coordinator (Plastic Ocean Project) ; Cassidy Edge, Social Media Coordinator (Plastic Ocean Project)


UNCW POP x GIVE Consignment for a Cause


During the fall semester of 2018 Katy Nickel and Maddie Bowen had the idea to create a fundraising event where clothes can be donated and purchased secondhand while raising money for GIVE UNCW and UNCW POP’s efforts in our community. The two environmental student groups teamed up because shopping secondhand is such a fun and easy way to reduce one’s carbon footprint. By purchasing clothes (and other item) secondhand, a consumer is directly decreasing the demand for new items to be produced and brought to market. Generally speaking, production in itself uses water, energy, and nonrenewable resources.

The first Consignment for a Cause took place in November of 2018. Not only did we have a bunch of leftover clothes, it was a successful fundraiser and we all had a blast. When spring semester came around, the Netflix show Tidying up with Marie Kondo was growing in popularity. We saw this as a great opportunity to give those inspired to declutter their belongings and shift toward a more minimalist lifestyle an outlet to properly dispose of clothes they no longer wanted while also supporting a great cause.

The event was set up boutique style in a member’s house. We sourced clothing racks from friends and local businesses and all contributed hangers and storage bins. Music was playing, Yerba Mate tea was flowing, snacks were served, and good vibes were being spread.

With our focus being protecting our oceans, supporting the act of secondhand shopping is near and dear to our hearts. At one of our meetings this semester, we invited Karyn Oetting from Second Skin Vintage and Kelsey Gibbs from the Wonder Shop to talk about how shopping vintage and secondhand is a responsible sustainable practice. The garment industry is known as the second biggest polluter of our planet’s waters so purchasing garments that already exist is a simple, yet fun way to create change from the ground up and truly vote with your dollar. Here is the awesome advice they gave: buy less, buy better, repair, reuse.

-Maddie Bowen, Social Media Coordinator (Plastic Ocean Project)

UNCW POP x Surfrider Oyster Roast 


“On Saturday, February 9, 2019 two organizations came together for an afternoon of laughs, smiles, and oysters. Surfrider and Plastic Ocean Project are UNC Wilmington’s leading organizations of ocean warriors. We actively clean our oceans by endless beach clean ups, research, and advocacy work. So, every now and then it’s nice to relax and enjoy each other’s company with good music, good people, ice cold Yerba Mate tea, and local oysters! A few UNCW Surfrider and POP alums, Scott Davis, Shane Browne, and Justin Parr showed up to help steam the oysters. My favorite part of this day was looking around and seeing old friends and new friends come together at one of my favorite houses on access 22 of Wrightsville Beach. Three years ago, when I transferred to UNC Wilmington, I broke out of my shell and started showing up to events at that same house when past Surfrider Presidents and POP officers lived there. And to look around and see Freshman and Sophomore doing the same thing I did, just to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves is so incredibly humbling. UNCW Surfrider and Plastic Ocean Project are going to change our oceans for the better and we will continue to strategize over some yummy oysters or at other social events like the day of February 9th.” 

-Morgan A. Smith, Vice President of UNCW Surfrider

“Going to an oyster roast with Plastic Ocean Project and Surfrider is more than a casual get together. To me, it was a symbol. A toast. It embodies the good times and good vibes of the atmosphere of our organizations. Personally, I enjoyed meeting new people from both chapters, especially with likeminded people gathering together to simply hang out. Seeing how everyone connected made me entirely optimistic about the future of our club and our activism moving forward. So, cheers to the wonderful tastes of the oysters and the refreshing Yerba Mate (courtesy of Eric, of course). With good music, great people, and an even better cause, there’s no better combination on a cool Saturday afternoon.” 

 -Sam Shores, Videographer (Plastic Ocean Project) 

POP X Give Mountain Weekend


We had an incredible mountain weekend experience in Lake Lure, NC, cohosted with Give UNCW. We tackled the brutally cold (and sometimes blizzard conditions) to bring awareness to marine plastic pollution inland- because all bodies of water eventually flow to the ocean. 18 of us ventured into the heart of downtown Asheville on the first day, in rain jackets and all, and explored the Mast General Store, Mamasitas burritos, books and such at the library, and some good brews at Asheville Brewing Co. (21+).

The next day, the crew braced the cold and snow to help support women’s rights during the Asheville Women’s March. Some of girls recycled our pancake boxes from breakfast to make signs to hold up during the march. We had fun walking around, but quickly took retreat into a local coffee shop (using their in-house mugs of course!) On our way back to the house, we passed Hanging Rock where we witnessed a huge waterfall spew half-frozen water for hundreds of feet below…nature is incredible! We then ventured into some local trails to take in more of the sights and sounds of the NC Appalachian mountains. Along the way we removed several wrappers, plastic bottles, and other trash. We stumbled upon another waterfall and some pretty big rocks, acting like kids again, getting lost in the wild.

That night we built a bonfire outside our house, roasted some marshmallows, told ghost stories, and stayed up late to witness a spectacular lunar eclipse (for many of us our first!) When the moon finally became blocked by the Earth’s shadow, hundreds of thousands of stars brightened the sky ever so clearly.

On the last day, we REALLY braced the cold (temps below 15F!) We helped Greenworks remove near 70 lbs of trash from streets of downtown Asheville… trash that would have otherwise made its way into the drains, down the rivers, and impact aquatic life. It was so cold, that at times the garbage was frozen, stuck to the ground (especially cig butts). At the end, we rewarded ourselves with some locally made sandwiches and sweets and made our trek back to Wilmington. Weekend well spent!

-Eric Dzenis, President (Plastic Ocean Project)

POP Goes Camping w/ NC State

POP Goes Camping

On Nov. 10th-11th UNCW POP teamed up, and camped out, with the NC State Wolfpack Environmental Student Association (WESA), to clean up Crabtree Creek and Black Creek in Raleigh, NC.

We swept for several hours on Saturday morning, and were able to collect 40+ lbs. of trash, most of which was plastic bags, (102) plastic bottles, dismembered car parts, Styrofoam bricks, and other food packaging film. Considering that most of these materials are remarkably light, 40+ lbs. of debris is actually a massive amount, we had a literal truck-load of bags filled to the brim with hundreds - if not thousands - of items. We had doubts when we first arrived at the river because everything already looked so clean; we weren't sure there would be enough debris for our efforts to be worth-while. Both fortunately, and unfortunately, we found plenty of debris to collect and as far as we could tell, we found everything  there was to find. It was so awesome to work with our new friends from WESA, and it's always refreshing to team up with other like-minded and passionate individuals to do something great for the common good of our beautiful planet!

Despite the cold temperatures everyone had a great time, and we certainly look forward to working with WESA again in the future

-Riley Beveridge, Preseident (Plastic Ocean Project)

Stop Sucking Week

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UNCW Plastic Ocean Project hosted their annual educational awareness week, “Stop Sucking Week” influenced by efforts made by the Lonely Whale Foundation.

The goal of the week was to permanently remove plastic straws from all dining locations, events, and program on the UNCW campus. To create this change, we need the support of our students, faculty, peers, and community. Plastic straws are an unnecessary waste in our daily consumption and behavior. Everyday in the United States alone, 500 million straws are used, and a countless amount find their way into our ocean and our environment. Since we are a university so interconnected with the ocean, it is imperative that we maximize our efforts to reduce plastic waste, and protect what makes our school so great. Let's make UNCW the first campus to be 100% plastic straw free! 

UNCW POP Tabled outside of Randall Library and the Fischer Student Center for four days in November in order to promote our campaign and get students to sign the Stop Sucking Petition. Metal straws were brought to the campus PODS, and paper straws were given out upon request in three dining locations on campus, including Port City Java and Dub’s Cafe. We also offered metal straws (an easy and cheap substitute to plastic straws) , straw facts, buttons, contests, and photo-ops at our table.

Sign out petition to ban plastic straws on the UNCW campus HERE

Asheville Mountain Weekend - River Sweep

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"The mountains of Burnsville and Asheville, NC did not disappoint the POP crew as they ventured into the heart of the Appalachians for a not-so-typical cleanup. With the thought that "all waters lead to the ocean," it is crucial to protect not only our oceans and beaches, but also our inland environments. Roughly 80% of all marine plastic debris comes from inland sources (National Geographic), and often this plastic is vectored by rivers, streams, estuaries, hurricanes, and other large rain events.

Cleaning up a tributary of the East Toe River, the POP crew successfully cleared a large amount of trash including plastic bottles, wrappers, road signs, plastic home siding, bouncy balls, and a map the Pacific North West (that one was a keeper.)

The Pop crew also took advantage of our beautiful mountains! They explored some scenic (and very cold) views atop mountain peaks, visited a Native American and geology knick-knack shop, enjoyed some pizza and brews at the Asheville Pizza Co., relaxed in front of the wood-burning fireplace, and even got some snowflakes on their tongues. It was a trip well-planned for sure, and a time that was spent not only having fun, but also making an impactful and lasting effect on the places we call home."

-Riley Beveridge, President (Plastic Ocean Project); Eric Dzenis, Member (Plastic Ocean Project)

First Annual Sustain w/ Sound Awareness Concert

An epic night of  plastic-free music and friends, Sustain with Sound 2017 featured Elephant Convoy, Gnarly Feat, Sibilant Sounds, and Josh Albert & Willow Rea. Stay tuned for 2018's event! 

“Thank you to everyone who made it out to this event we worked so hard on! Big ups to Katy Nickel and Eric Dzenis for working so hard. All the love to Recon Surf for being stellar hosts and stewards of our environment. Thank you to all of our raffle and food donors Ceviche’s, PinPoint Restaurant, Beach Bagels, Chop’s Deli: a Boar’s Head Delicatessen, The Donut Inn, Copper Penny, Kapena Kai, Nico Blue, UNCW Surfrider Club, Cooks Flips, Blockade Runner Beach Resort, Mellow Mushroom, and Venture Pal. Huge thanks to Mack Coyle for providing the solar generator that powered the event, Greg with Modern Stage and Sound for the sweet stage, UNCW Hawkstream Radio for the sound and all of YOU for bringing your reusables, big smiles, and great times. And of course, thank you to the incredible bands that brought the energy and good vibes, this event would not have been what it was without you: Josh Albert, Willow Rea, Gnarly Feat., Sibilant Sounds, and Elephant Convoy. ”

— Maddie Bowen, Social Media Coordinator (Plastic Ocean Project)

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It all started when…

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