RETHINK Single-Use Plastics

Pacific Whale Foundation’s RETHINK campaign champions alternatives to everyday single-use plastics in an effort to save marine life. This conservation campaign expands on our Last Straw campaign, which has resulted in 29 local restaurants and countless individuals abandoning plastic straws. Plastic never truly biodegrades; instead, it photodegrades or breaks up into smaller pieces that remain in our environment. Pacific Whale Foundation research confirms that 70 to 90% of all debris found on and around Maui is plastic. Single-use plastics are the biggest contributor to this dilemma, as they permeate almost every facet of modern-day life but are thrown away after only one use. 

As plastic breaks into tiny pieces, it’s ingested by marine organisms and permeates the food chain. Plastic polymers include noxious chemical additives and contaminants, but they also absorb additional toxins on their journey, including some known endocrine disruptors that may be harmful at extremely low concentrations for marine life, thus posing potential risks to marine ecosystems, biodiversity and food availability. Besides working its way up the food chain, plastic is also accidentally ingested by animals mistaking it for food and causes many entanglement deaths annually. 

It has been estimated that up to 1 billion marine animals, from plankton to sea birds to dolphins and whales die each year from plastic pollution.

The United States contributes an estimated 242 million pounds of plastic trash to the ocean every year. We all contribute to this problem, so every one of us can make a difference. Make a pledge today to reduce your use of single-use plastics.


    As part of this yearlong conservation campaign, we are sharing
    weekly tips on our Facebook and Instagram page

    Learn more through Pacific Whale Foundation’s Blog

    Find more coverage on alternatives, marine debris research, education initiatives and much more released in our weekly blogs

    We are also supporting the message of the RETHINK campaign by offering free “Plastic Pollution Solutions” classes to school classrooms, conducting marine debris research and action planning, incorporating RETHINK education into keiki Ocean Camps and workshops, and conducting beach clean-ups and other community events. We carry out programs in Hawaii, Australia, Ecuador, Chile and other parts of the Pacific that will inspire us all to RETHINK our choices regarding single-use plastics.
    Want to be part of the solution?


    Show your support with RETHINK apparel

    Marine debris and plastic pollution are a serious and growing threat to ocean health and marine wildlife. You can make a positive impact today when you join PWF to RETHINK single-use plastics. We are just $6,000 away from reaching our fundraising goal of $20K to combat single-use plastics entering the ocean, which will directly help provide our Plastic Pollution Solutions program for schools, beach cleanups, marine debris research and prevention efforts, and outreach to spread the word of the harmful impacts of plastic waste and help people easily switch to alternative products.

    • Learn More About RETHINK

      Pacific Whale Foundation’s research has shown plastic pollution to be a problem in Hawaii. A recent baseline study published by Currie et al. (2018) found 90% of large coastal debris in Maui Nui to be plastics. Another study conducted by PWF (Blickley et al. 2016) surveyed three shoreline beaches around the island and found plastics made up 70% of all debris. Our citizen science Coastal Marine Debris Monitoring Program (CMDMP) has been collecting marine debris data from volunteers since 2013 (CMDMP, 2019). Of the ~60,000 pieces of debris collected by citizen scientists, 73% were plastics. Plastic never truly biodegrades; instead it photodegrades, meaning it breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces but never actually leaves our environment. Plastic takes hundreds to thousands of years to degrade, therefore, every piece of plastic ever created still exists today. These studies show that plastic debris is a major problem in Hawai‘i, a trend that is also observed globally by other researchers. The goal of this campaign is to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics not only here in Maui, but around the world as well.

      WATCH the RETHINK video series:

      Is your house looking like a tornado ran through it? With all of the working and schooling going on at home, we can certainly use any help we can get organizing our lives. Today’s project will incorporate upcycling, creativity, AND organization. Since most of us have to stay at home, and are trying not to visit the grocery store as much as possible, we have to get creative with our reuse. If you aren’t sure how to reuse those sanitizing wipe containers, look no further! Shelby and Lila are back to show you how to do a simple and creative art project, while also reducing your waste at home. Share with us YOUR creative reuse art on Instagram and tag @pacificwhalefoundation so that we can see it!

      Find the full video series HERE.

      Upcycling     Microbeads     Microbeads     Sunscreen     Microfibers     Cigarettes     Sunglasses     Diapers

      Toys     Balloons     Recycling     Glitter      Gift Cards      Shipping      Cups

      Utensils     Water     Styrofoam      Legislation      Grocery Shopping

      Frozen Meals      Plastic Bags     Produce Bags     Gum

    • Alternatives to Plastic


    • What You Can Do

      REFUSE to use single-use plastic and USE ALTERNATIVES to plastic whenever possible

      REUSE plastic products whenever possible.

      RECYCLE plastic products whenever possible. Not all plastics are recyclable, so make sure to check what is accepted in your area. Find Maui County guidelines HERE.

      PLEDGE to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics by signing our online form.

      ASK your local restaurants and businesses to choose alternatives to plastic straws, cups, utensils, packaging etc.

      SHARE your commitment and stories of pollution solutions with #RETHINK @pacificwhalefoundation

      Get your RETHINK STARTER KIT today

      Designed to cover your most common plastic alternative needs. Your purchase/donation supports marine debris research and conservation action to prevent plastics from entering the ocean and harming marine life. Mahalo for making a difference.

    • Resources


      Download Rethink Single-Use-Plastics Poster

      Take the Pledge Sign Up Sheet

      Reduce Single-Use-Plastics Ten Tips Poster

      Rethink Single-Use-Plastics Graphic Info Poster

    Hawaii Visitor Update

    Aloha, We Are Open!  Our PacWhale Eco-Adventures are open for booking as we welcome visitors back to Maui.  Quarantine restrictions were lifted on Oct. 15th for those following the state’s pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirements.