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Cindy Zipf: Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Action is on a mission to protect our oceans through education, policy advocacy, research, and more. They work to implement laws to save the ocean’s unprotected ecosystems and spread the word about the importance of keeping the ocean clean and healthy. Learn more about protecting the ocean here!

Can you tell me about the need for your work?

All of us depend on a clean and healthy ocean, it’s a life-giving force that provides most of the oxygen on the planet. Even if you don’t enjoy getting sandy and salty, the ocean provides every other breath we take. The ocean takes up ¾ of the planet but it has very few protections. The work we do makes people aware of how we are impacting the ocean in small and large ways. We identify ways that people can change their behaviors and advocate for sustaining a clean and healthy ocean. There are few groups raising the alarm on this issue like we are. In order to save the planet from climate change, we have to protect our oceans.

Can you tell me about some of the laws that you advocate for?

The ocean is essentially an unprotected ecosystem, there aren’t many laws around it. We are working on the Clean Ocean Zone, which is a first of its kind law to protect the waters off the NY and NJ coast, and could be amended to protect other ocean areas in the country. We work on many levels to address plastic waste and have gotten laws passed banning plastic bags, styrofoam containers, and limiting plastic straws. When we first started, the waters off NY and NJ were on the brink. Raw sewage was everywhere and medical waste was washing up on the shore. We advocated to end ocean dumping, fought for better waste water treatment, and as a result the ocean has been restored in many ways.

How can individuals help protect our oceans?

We decide what we buy and use in our day to day lives, and not using single-use plastics is a significant act that people can implement everyday to protect the ocean and planet. We can also think about the products that we use and wash down the drain, because all of that eventually winds up in the ocean. Limiting pesticide use and putting an end to littering are things we can control. Everyone can help save the ocean a little bit everyday by advocating for a healthy ocean and learning as much as possible about it.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love engaging with people who are passionate about the ocean. The most important part of our work is engaging with the part of everyone that cares about the planet. The ocean is what makes life on the planet sustainable, and we have to tap into the part of people that cares about that. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I’m proud of all that we’ve been able to accomplish so far. Our small staff can’t save the ocean, but people who love and care about the ocean can if we all band together. Whether you are in the heart of Manhattan or in the rural farms of Wyoming, your local environment has impacts on the ocean. You don’t have to live on the beach for this to matter to you.


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