Confronting the Plastic Pandemic: Eben Schwartz's Vision for a Cleaner Future | Shorewords!

March 16, 2023

Get inspired by Eben Schwartz's dedication to our oceans.

Eben Schwartz has a lengthy history working on plastic pollution and marine debris, topics on which he has become one of the country’s leading authorities.  He has led California’s Coastal Cleanup Day, chaired the West Coast Marine Debris Alliance, was awarded an Aspen Institute Fellowship, served as one of the inaugural Catto Fellows for emerging leaders in the environment and energy sector, and has travels around the world to talk about the challenges and potential solutions for marine debris and plastic pollution.  In 2020, Eben was appointed to serve for 18 months on the National Academies.  Committee on the United States Contributions to Global Ocean Plastic Waste (  Join host Lesley Ewing in conversation with Eben Schwartz about his decades long environmental career and some of the books and events that influence his life path.

Show Transcription
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Lesley Ewing

Hello. I’m Lesley Ewing, host of Shorewords!. This podcast combines two of my favorite things – the ocean and books. I learned to swim before I could walk and looked forward each summer to my family’s vacation at Ocean City, Maryland. As a student I was interested in science and engineering and became an environmental engineer before learning that there was something called coastal engineering. Both my 1 st and 2 nd mid-life crises resulted in me going back to school – first for a Masters of Engineering at UC Berkeley and later for a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. The first crisis also moved me from DC to the SF Bay. The second crisis reminded me how much I liked to read. Getting a Ph.D. while working a 40+-hour/week job meant that my only reading was work reports, text books and technical articles. They were all important and interesting books, but as soon as school ended, I replaced my academic text books with broader literature and realized that the coast was often a character in the fiction and non-fiction that I read. I am still fascinated by every visit to the ocean and remain in awe of what others write about the coast.