There is a line in the now-classic film “The Graduate,” where Benjamin Braddock, played by Dustin Hoffman, receives some unsolicited advice about his future from Mr. McGuire, played by Walter Brooke.
“Plastics,” Mr. McGuire says, standing outside of a luxurious home.
In the 1960s, when “The Graduate” was made, the Plastic Age was still in its infancy. Soon, the universe would be dominated by plastic everything.
As 2020 approaches, some 60 years of convenient plastic living threatens to undermine the health of our oceans and indeed the planet, creating environmental peril in less than a century.
So, we ask ourselves, can we change? Can we do without plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic food containers, plastic wrap and on and on. It seems we have chosen to make plastic straws a symbol of protest, reform and redemption.
Then there’s straws. Really? Straws? How about every other product on the supermarket shelves? The oceans are also littered with “Tide” detergent containers.
I suppose straws are a beginning. There must always be a beginning for change to come. We must not lose sight of the fact that some 91% of all the plastic ever made has not been recycled, according to National Geographic.
Fittingly, the overriding theme of the recent 2019 Oceana SeaChange Summer Party focused on the blight of the plastic onslaught worldwide.
The 12th annual gathering, held once again at the ocean view Cahill estate in Laguna Beach, attracted 400 serious conservationists who raised in excess of $1.5 million in support of the efforts of Oceana to bring effective and lasting change to the devastating pollution of our world oceans.
Make no mistake, this is a life or death issue. It is not debatable; it is visible and floating by in ever-increasing vast regions, killing animal and planet life, altering the chemistry of the world’s oceans, and impacting the human food chain in increasingly serious and dramatic fashion. About 15% of the human population depends on seafood for its animal protein intake, according to the United Nations.
Fronting the SeaChange rally is actor and activist Ted Danson. He came with close friend Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, to lead the charge for action.
“In too many places, I no longer recognize the sea of my youth when I dive because there is so much plastic,” she said. “I’ve seen things that my grandfather would consider a nightmare.”
The passionate celebrity hosts were joined by notable friends supporting the cause, including Sally Pressman, Austin Nichols, Angela Kinsey, Oscar Nunez and Jason and Ashley Wahler.
“I have seen firsthand the impact of plastic on our once-pristine O.C. beaches, coasts and oceans,” Whaler said. “We need to do something now.”
Local O.C. notables Elizabeth Wahler and Valerie Van Cleave served as co-chairs of the event. Both women have been dedicated to the cause for years. Jeff Blasingame provided able support in the role of vice chairman.
Helping to raise the $1.5 million were generous donors and guests of the evening, dining on the cliffs of the Cahill’s Italian Mediterranean estate. Judy and Jim Chang, Suzie Kim and Michael Silvers, Laurie Kraus and Donnie Crevier, Barbara and Greg MacGillivray, Eve and Mike Ruffatto, Maralou and Jerry Harrington, Sally and Randy Crockett, and Heather and Paul Singarella, were among the glitterati.
Also sharing dinner conversation al fresco and enjoying entertainment by Jackson Browne and his band were Bahadra and Mark Gordon, Laurie Rodnick and Sir Thomas Moore, Leslie and Dino Cancellieri, Toni and Steven Berlinger, and Susie and George Wood.
Major sponsorship was provided by BMW of Southern California, Mikimoto, Twila True, Nolet Spirits, Ketel One Vodka, South Coast Plaza, Harriet E. Pfleger Foundation, Marisla Foundation and donors Tricia and Michael Berns, and Jean and Tim Weiss.
Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless came in from his East Coast headquarters to support the evening. His address was optimistic.
“Oceana will win national laws mandating major reduction in throw-away plastics,” he said. “We’ll get this done in the next five years.”
As a worldwide ocean conservation organization, Oceana has presently secured policy victories against plastic waste in Peru, Belize, Europe and other parts of the world. Clearly, much more must be done.
To learn more about the work of Oceana go to www.oceana.org.