Congratulations to the Winners of Bow Seat’s 2018 Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition!

Posted Mon, 09/24/2018 - 12:14
By Alyssa Irizarry, Program Director, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs

Rising to the challenge, teenagers from across the country designed and led creative campaigns in their communities to tackle the marine litter problem as part of Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Program’s Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition, supported by the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

Bottle cap mural.
This beautiful mural was created with hundreds of thousands of recycled bottle caps, collected by school and community members, as part of the Bluffton High School (SC) group’s “Save Our Seas” campaign. (Photo Credit: Bow Seat)

Bow Seat and NOAA are proud to recognize the 2018 winners, whose campaigns met the Competition goals of:

          - Educating the public about marine debris,

          - Inspiring people to change their behavior, and

          - Engaging others in an activity that reduces or prevents marine debris

Shelby O’Neil, a student at San Benito High School in San Juan Bautista, California, won the Competition’s Gold award for her campaign, “No Straw November.” Shelby raised awareness about a pervasive form of marine litter – single-use plastic straws – by challenging individuals worldwide to refuse them for an entire month. She also contacted corporate executives to encourage them to eliminate their use of plastic straws in their business operations, successfully convincing Alaska Airlines, Dignity Health, and Farmer Brothers to do so. Through her leadership, Shelby is helping to prevent tens of millions of plastic straws from potentially ending up in the ocean every year.

Girls collecting trash on the beach.
Shelby O’Neil (San Juan Bautista, CA) ran a “No Straw November” campaign to reduce the impact of single-use plastic straws on the coastal and marine environment. Lightweight straws that find their way into the ocean will float, slowly breaking down by sunlight and wave action into smaller pieces that may end up as unnatural, toxic additions to the marine food chain.  (Photo Credit: Bow Seat)

Many Competition participants, recognizing the importance of activating the next generation of environmental stewards, focused their efforts on educating their peers and younger students about the marine litter problem. Other winners raised awareness and inspired action around the issue by hosting art shows, leading creative upcycling projects, presenting to city officials, tabling at community events, and organizing campus and beach clean-ups. Visit the Bow Seat website to view all of the competition winners and learn more about their projects.

Students pretend to be an ocean gyre.
New Ocean Blue (Carlsbad, CA) taught local elementary students about plastic pollution through a creative, interactive presentation – the students’ favorite part was pretending to be an ocean gyre! (Photo Credit: Bow Seat)

“We are proud to honor our Competition winners for recognizing their role as changemakers and engaging their community members to protect our ocean and waterways,” said Linda Cabot, founder and president of Bow Seat. “Even though humans are the cause of our marine debris crisis, these teenagers are demonstrating that we can also play the role of problem-solvers. Through creative leadership and the creative arts, these young activists are fighting for the environmental protections and social progress that they deserve.”

If you are interested in joining the rising wave of youth activism for our ocean, visit the Bow Seat website to learn more about the 2019 Competition, which is open now through June 17, 2019 – middle and high school students from around the world are now eligible to participate!

Congratulations to the Winners of Bow Seat’s 2018 Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition!

Posted Mon, 09/24/2018 - 12:14

For citation purposes, unless otherwise noted, this article was authored by the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

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