What every person can do to save the ocean

When Orlie Jedwab, President and owner of Key Transportation, decided to join the Marine Advisory Committee of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, she did so because she is passionate about protecting the environment and saving the ocean. Its goals of informing the community about conservation, sustainability and resiliency in relation to the marine industry were completed aligned with her own.

“I live in Las Olas, in the heart of the marine industry, but was totally unaware of how important the marine industry is to the health of the Fort Lauderdale business community. When I joined, I found that each member of the Marine Advisory Committee is making an impact in the industry.”

Orlie first became aware of the issue of plastics in the ocean by seeing photos of wildlife that had ingested plastic bags, as well as turtles with straws embedded in their noses. These images haunted her and she was determined to be part of the solution.

“In restaurants, I asked anyone who waited on me not to put straws in my water. I asked friends, my kids, and their friends to do the same thing. I asked management at restaurants where I ate if they’d consider not to automatically put straws in drinks (only doing it if people ask) and to consider using paper straws.”

“I ordered boxes of paper straws by mail and sent them to friends and family. My daughter carries them wherever she goes. When she pulls them out with a group of friends she’s a big hit.

Making a difference every day at both home and work is a priority. Teaching everyone about the importance of recycling is essential if they’re going to make the investment of the time it takes. “I recycle everything at work and at home. Miami doesn’t offer recycling for businesses so I pay for the recycling myself. I also do educational talks with my employees about what can and cannot be recycled, including the need to clean bottles before recycling them and to use reusable bags to shop. If they do use plastic bags, they need to be separated and taken to a supermarket that offers to recycle plastic bags like Publix and Target..

Orlie is a driving force for sustainability and environmental protection within the Marine Advisory Committee. She understands the power of pictures, since it was pictures that motivated her passion, so she posts videos and photos of herself on Facebook as she recycles. On the weekends, as she walks and exercises, she brings a bag and picks up cans and plastics along the way, putting them in recycling bins as she walks.

Guy Harvey’s talk at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show was eye opening to everyone present, noted Orlie. As a scientist, Guy spent eight years studying and researching mako sharks, and his data proved that the mako shark was being overfished. Because of his work, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) re-classified the mako shark as an endangered species.

Guy Harvey encouraged everyone in the room to consider, as they dined out at a restaurant, what fish are on the menu and where they are caught. He asked that we all consider eating only sustainable fish, as well as encouraging local sustainable fishing practices.

Every person can choose to make a difference, Orlie notes. “We don’t have a lot of time left to make a difference. If we want to have an impact, we need to open our eyes and act now. It’s a long road – but if everybody does their part we can all make a huge difference – and have an impact.”

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