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 Officer (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 Officer ; CASSIDY EDGE, Social Media Officer (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, POP 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, (Plastic Ocean Project)

Stop Sucking Week

Stop Sucking 1.jpg
Stop SUcking 2.jpg

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

Image 2-22-19 at 5.14 PM.jpg
Image 2-22-19 at 5.13 PM (8).jpg

"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, (Plastic Ocean Project); ERIC DZENIS, (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 Officer (Plastic Ocean Project)

Image 2-26-19 at 10.21 AM (7).jpg

Plastics to Art Gala 2017

 Our Plastics To Art Gala features local artists who transform marine plastics into a variety of art mediums to educate and bring awareness to this issue. The night's events also include local musicians, plastic-free apps and drinks, and a plastic-art-fashion-show by Wrightsville Beach Elementary students.