Whiskey and steel

2 out of 3 fish test positive for plastic
plastic marine debris
Plastic bottles and other marine debris wash up on beaches like this one (photo: NOAA).

We live in an imperfect world where the problems we face as anglers — what fly to use, where to fish, what rod to buy, how to fix leaky waders — are dwarfed by a whole litany of issues that impact not only our fly fishing but also our day-to-day lives. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our economy is held together with balling wire and duct tape. Free market fundamentalists and rapacious profiteers are trying to steal the public lands where we fish, hike, hunt and camp. Our oceans are filling with plastic, and growing ever more acidic. Even the storm clouds on the horizon have an ominous name — global warming. Honestly, it’s enough to make a guy want to crawl inside a bottle of whiskey for a week or three.

Perhaps the worst thing is knowing that there’s not much we can do as individuals; that our problems are so big that our personal actions don’t really matter all that much. Sure, we’ve heard that the journey of a lifetime begins with a single step ... but what kind of single step matters right now?

Our friends at Costa may not have the answer to all these issues, but they do have an answer; an action that will actually make a difference and move us all in a positive direction. It’s called the “Kick Plastic” campaign.

The idea is really pretty simple. The plastic detritus of American life ends up in our landfills, and on our landscapes, and in our waters. We have vast gyres of floating, swirling plastic befouling our oceans, to the point that two thirds of the saltwater fish we eat test positive for plastic. At the same time, untold numbers of fish, birds, sea turtles and marine mammals die from eating or becoming entangled in our plastic garbage.

Long story short, this plastic trash just sucks. But we can do something about it. Instead of being content with all the single-use plastic crap that’s pushed on us, we can say “No thanks.” We can decide not to use those ubiquitous plastic grocery bags, we can recycle our milk jugs, and we can say “No!" to single-use plastic water bottles of all shapes and sizes.

great pacific garbage patches
Illustration depicting the location of the great Pacific garbage patches and subtropical convergence zone (credit: NOAA).

Costa’s “Kick Plastic” campaign helps guides and outfitters steer clear of plastic water bottles by providing better alternatives. Instead of single-use bottles filled with sketchy water from distant municipal taps, Costa is encouraging industry pros to shift to reusable stainless steel or aluminum bottles.

“But I’m not a guide or an outfitter.”

Doesn’t matter. Before your next fishing trip, pick up a couple of stainless water bottles and fill them with water - or with your beverage of choice - before you hit the river. When you make it home, just rinse them out, wash them, let them dry, and you’re ready to roll for your next excursion.

avex freeflow stainless autoseal water bottle
The AVEX stainless steel freeflow water bottle.

Where to start? Well, Yeti makes some killer stainless bottles. So does Klean Kanteen. So does Avex. Ask your buddies what they use, spend 20 minutes researching different brands on the web, order a couple of bottles that look good, and start kicking the plastic habit.

Still not convinced? According to Costa:

  • The U.S. produces 35 billion plastic bottles every year.
  • Plastic bottles last up to 1000 years.
  • 10% of our plastic bottles end up in the ocean.
  • Plastic kills 1 million sea birds every year.
  • Two thirds of our fish test positive for plastic.

So is reducing our plastic waste going to save the planet? No, it’s not. But it’s a solid start in the right direction — and it’s something we can all do right now. Please take two minutes and check out the Kick Plastic video from Costa.