CARLSBAD — Teen philanthropy is on the rise and two Carlsbad sisters are riding the wave.
Armed with global awareness knowledge, they opened the doors to their nonprofit, New Ocean Blue, last year.
The Chang-Haines sisters educate others on the dangers of plastic pollution in the ocean, while rallying their peers toward a quest for positive action to protect the waters.
“After learning a little about the issue of plastic pollution, we were immediately hooked,” Megan Chang-Haines, 15, said. “We realized in a very short period of time that this was a huge issue. We began to immerse ourselves in the information and research as much as possible.”
The girls didn’t just haphazardly start a nonprofit. Megan said they developed contacts who guided them along the way so they could be as successful as possible.
This year, the sisters delivered the nonprofit mission to their campus at Pacific Ridge School.
“We decided to expand New Ocean Blue by integrating it into the school as a way to reach a wider audience and to educate people whom we interact with on a daily basis,” said Kimberly Chang-Haines, 17. “New Ocean Blue’s mission is primarily to educate the population, specifically the younger generation, about the dangers of plastic pollution. Plastic is all around us and in nearly every daily object that we use.”
Kimberly said their nonprofit wants to help people to reconsider their actions while also switching over to nonplastic items.
Some easy examples include using reusable sandwich containers instead of plastic bags; cloth shopping bags instead of plastic bags; and stainless steel water bottles versus plastic.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program, nearly 100,000 marine mammals perish because of “trash related deaths” per year.
Megan describes plastic pollution as a critical issue because its lifespan is enormous. Experts are still grappling with the timeframe.
“As a result, plastic is piling up on our planet — every bit of plastic that has ever been manufactured is still around,” Megan said.
A driving force for these sisters is how plastic pollution directly effects both their generation and future generations.
Kimberly wants people to know that pollution is a continuing problem for both waterways and oceans. It negatively impacts environmental health.
“According to Dan Imhoff, author of ‘Paper or Plastic,’ a plastic bag, something that is used briefly then thrown away, is the No. 1 consumer product in the world,” Kimberly said. She continued, “Because plastic does not degrade in our lifetime, every piece created is still somewhere here on our earth.”
In the San Diego’s Tijuana River Valley during the dry season, the sisters said, plastic trash can pile up to four feet. And when it rains, this trash washes away into the sea.
Kimberly and Megan’s mother, Silvia Chang, is extremely proud of her daughters for shouldering this environmental responsibility.
“They have taken this organization from the concept stage to implementation themselves and spend a significant number of hours in their free time carrying out their mission,” said Silvia, adding that her daughters have always been inquisitive. “I believe that they understand that they can have an impact on the world around them and that they should not be complacent.”
Chang said her daughters helped open her eyes when it comes to plastic pollution and their passion for the cause has enlightened her.
Megan believes that people are still not fully aware of plastic and its negativity.
“If we do not start addressing this problem now, in the future the problem may be insurmountable and the impact on our environment and health may be irreversible,” Megan said.
To learn more about New Ocean Blue, including its appearance at upcoming events, visit newoceanblue.org.