Date of Graduation

Fall 12-16-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Gerard Kuperus


By 2050, the world’s oceans will have more plastic than fish with potentially catastrophic consequences on sea life and the health of the ocean. Economically, countries with coastal boundaries will be heavily impacted as plastic pollution has already generated a 13 billion dollars in monetary losses. Considering that this is an extreme problem that we are currently facing the current solution is not enough in curbing our plastic pollution. While, recycling programs have been beneficial in reclaiming some plastic our mass consumption of plastic has outpaced the capabilities of recycling efforts. If we are to find a solution in our plastic pollution problem, we must first start at the source of plastic pollution; consumers. One organization in Oahu is doing exactly that, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii for the past five years has worked within the island chain of Hawaii to educate the public through community based clean-ups and their traveling education station in order to change consumer habits away from plastic and to a more sustainable form of consumerism. The solution that Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is trying to implement is daunting, as this paper will explore the history of plastic to understand how a product that is dangerous to the environment has become such a staple part of our society. The paper will also utilize Ulrich Beck’s “Risk Society” to explain why recycling programs were first seen as a solution to our plastic waste as well as to why we are returning back to the conversation of plastic pollution. Finally this paper explores the dangers plastic pollution has had on the oceans to explain why a model such as Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is needed in solving our ocean plastic pollution.