The Fact That Changed Everything: Jim Moriarty and Surfrider Foundation The Fact That Changed Everything: Jim Moriarty and Surfrider Foundation
The Planet

The Fact That Changed Everything: Jim Moriarty and Surfrider Foundation

by Bora Chang, Jessica De Jesus

September 2, 2012

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“In a sense, nothing has changed since then,” Moriarty says. “We’re still fighting for conservation of the coast, and doing that via engaging people and organizing activists.” The volunteer-fueled organization has 85 chapters in 18 different countries. In the US and Canada, various local chapters are currently running 89 active campaigns, ranging from banning or charging for single-use plastic bags in various cities, including Chicago, Santa Cruz, California, and Galveston, Texas; fighting development that will decrease public access to beaches in Asbury Park, New Jersey; or petitioning for right-to-know legislation that requires agencies to report raw sewage spills or discharge violations, as in Central Long Island, New York.

The 28-year-old organization has been affected by one change: The rise of the Internet and social media platforms such as Twitter, which have made outreach and recruiting volunteers easier. “The Internet now allows us to engage with up to 100,000 people a month. It has really further enabled our efforts in bringing people together—it’s an amplifier and an accelerator,” Moriarty says. 

Despite successful campaigns and support, the battle for clean coasts continues. “More and more people are aware of how personal habits impact beautiful places like our oceans, but what’s disconcerting is that if you go to any beach on the globe, there are plastics on it,” he says.

He believes the farther you go away from development, the worse the trash is. “Places like Miami have pristine beaches because there’s a general level of awareness, but when you’re snorkeling in the Maldives, you’ll see a plastic bag.”

The focus now more than ever is on connecting with more people: “We absolutely want to engage with as many people as possible—millions and millions of people—and ask them to use less plastic, not dump their oils down the drain, and shift their consumer habits. This is the change I want to see,” he says.

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The Fact That Changed Everything: Jim Moriarty and Surfrider Foundation