In recent times, it’s become so important that we recognise the impact we’re having on the planet.
Sustainability is key and we want future generations to be able to enjoy our wonderful Earth – and this includes our oceans. As it stands, plastic pollution in our oceans is growing at a substantial rate – and 100 million marine animals die each year from plastic waste alone.
One of the big reasons for plastic pollution is because it takes plastics a long time to break down – and when it does, it breaks down into even smaller particles (microplastics). All of us can play a small part in our lives to prevent plastic making its way into the oceans. If you haven’t already begun to play your part, here’s how you can help – right now!
Recycle properly. It’s easy!
Why do we recycle? Well, it helps to keep plastics out of unnecessary places like the ocean, and it reduces the amount of ‘new’ plastic in circulation. Check with your local recycling centres about the type of plastic they can accept. Almost everything you purchase now should have instructions telling you if and how you can recycle. Only 9% of plastic is recycled worldwide and that figure needs to increase dramatically.
Cut down the use of single-use plastics.
Bags, bottles, cups, straws, takeaway boxes – try and cut down the use of these items which are used once and then disposed of. If you are using them, make sure they are properly recycled – or you reuse them. Re-use bags and bottles where possible. If you have got takeaway boxes, why not use them as lunchboxes?
Spread the word – individuals, businesses, social media!
If you are getting plastic boxes from businesses like restaurants, let them know that you’d like to see sustainable alternatives. Why? Because recent research has shown that plastic items from takeaway food and drink DOMINATE the litter in the world’s oceans.
It’s important to talk and share with others the importance of recycling and reducing plastic pollution. Education is key so by sharing what you now know with others and encouraging them to play their part, slowly but surely we can make the oceans and the environment a healthier, happier place.
Get involved in Ocean, Beach or River Clean-Ups.
Play your part by helping to get rid of plastics from the ocean, or stopping them reaching the ocean. If you can get involved in a clean-up near your local beach or waterway, you’ll be able to stop these plastics reaching the ocean. It doesn’t have to stop with local beaches and waterways either. Local clean-ups can help harmful plastics affecting the local environment and wildlife. This can be a very rewarding way to fight plastic pollution.
It doesn’t have to be organised clean-ups either. Make it your mission to clean any plastic waste as you go, and tell others. Together, we can all make a difference.
Avoid products containing microbeads.
Microbeads – tiny plastic particles – have become a growing source of ocean plastic pollution in recent years. Microbeads can be found in face scrubs, body washes and toothpastes and enter waterways and oceans through our sewer systems, becoming major contributors to plastic pollution. They affect hundreds of marine species. Avoid products containing plastic microbeads by looking for ‘polythelene’ and ‘polypropylene’ on the ingredient labels of cosmetic products. Here is a list of products containing microbeads. – List of Products With Microbeads and Microplastics – Beat the Microbead
Support legislation to reduce plastic production and waste.
Introducing laws are key to realising the issue of plastic production and waste. It’s crucial that we change our behaviours on an individual basis, but we need legislation from governments to ensure that plastic production is reduced, waste management is improved and that those producing plastic are responsible for what they are producing. There are many ways you can support local, national, and international legislation which provide critical solutions to reduce plastic pollution.
At international level, many organisations and businesses are calling on the United Nations to enact a global plastics treaty that would set global rules and regulations to reduce plastic pollution. And, legislation that limits, taxes, or bans unnecessary single-use plastic items, like plastic bags, bottles and takeaway boxes, has been successfully enacted in many places globally, and you can support these kind of policies in your community too. Here is a comprehensive resource and toolkit on legislative approaches to limiting plastic bags, foodware, microplastics, and more. [Source: Laws and Policies – plasticpollutioncoalition (plasticpollutioncoalitionresources.org)]
Support organisations working to combat plastic pollution
There are a number of non-profit organisations who work to reduce and eliminate ocean plastic pollution. These organisations rely on donations to continue their important work and even small donations can make a significant difference. Check some out at 15 Brave Organisations Fighting To Save Our Oceans (marineinsight.com)
While there is a huge fight to save the oceans, we can all help play our part in some way. #WorldOceanDay