8 Ways To Fight Ocean Plastic Pollution
It is no secret that plastic pollution is an immense threat to our oceans. In fact, on a global scale, it is the biggest threat to the health of our oceans.
Having witnessed how detrimental plastic pollution is ourselves in The Maldives, we can firmly say that action needs to be taken in order to reduce and eliminate the amount of plastics that are poured into our oceans every single day.
From poor waste management, to a lack of recycling and an increase in overall plastic production there is between 4 to 12 million tons of plastic that enter the ocean every single year - it seems challenging to put an end to this disease that is killing the ocean and the marine life that lives in it. Coral reefs, sharks, turtles, rays, fish, birds, whales are all susceptible and have died due to damaging effects of plastic.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are things that every one of us can implement every day that will help. With the surge of many eco-companies that are spreading awareness about the importance of plastic reduction, we do see a slither of positivity and hope on the horizon.
What can you do to help reduce ocean plastic pollution?
1. Stop Using Single-Use Plastics (or at least try to reduce your use of them)
This is the most crucial and impactful way to help save our oceans. Single-use plastics are used once and then they are discarded, causing so much harm to the environment. Everyone has single use plastics from plastic bags, plastic water bottles, plastic straws, plastic cups, plastic utensils, plastic food containers… They truly are the cancer of the ocean and we must really try to reduce of use of them.
What you can do:
Say no to all plastic straws, even in restaurants. You actually do not need them to enjoy a drink, and if a straw is a must, there are many re-suable and eco-friendly options nowadays. Why not purchase your own reusable stainless steel or glass straw?
Use a reusable bag for groceries and every day life. Did you know that a single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade into micro-plastics?
Use a razor that has replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor.
Refuse plastic takeout utensils or plastic takeout containers when ordering food to be delivered. If the restaurant doesn’t offer an eco-friendly option, tell them that you would love it if they did.
Use wooden matches instead of disposable plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter.
If you’re a parent, use cloth nappies / diapers to reduce your baby's carbon footprint and to save money.
2. Recycle and Reuse
If you do happen to use single-use plastic items or any plastic items in general (it does happen, sometimes we simply cannot avoid it) - then please please please recycle them properly. Recycling helps keep detrimental plastics out of the ocean and reduces the amount of new plastics in circulation.
3. Give up certain food and eating habits
Things you can do:
Chewing gum is made of a synthetic rubber, which is plastic - highly likely to end up in the ocean and endanger marine species, let’s avoid gum and brush our teeth instead - perhaps with a bamboo toothbrush?
Use a reusable bottle or coffee cup for your cold and hot beverages, even when ordering from a café.
If you bring packed lunches to work, pack your food in reusable containers and reusable bags too.
If you’re a juice lover, why not make your own freshly squeezed juice? Not only is it healthier but it is also better for the environment as it will prevent you from buying juice in plastic bottles.
When grocery shopping, why not purchase certain foods like cereal, pasta and rice in bulk and then fill a reusable container at home. You will save money and boycott unnecessary packaging.
Bring your own reusable container for take-out or your restaurant leftovers since many restaurants use styrofoam (such a harmful product that ends up in the ocean).
Avoid buying frozen foods as their packaging is mostly plastic, you'll also be eating less processed food.
4. Organise a beach, forest, park, river Cleanup
You can easily organise or participate in a clean-up along with friends, family or a new community of people who care about the environment! Help remove plastics from our natural spaces, this is an extremely rewarding way to fight ocean plastic pollution.
5. Do it yourself
Instead of constantly purchasing products from shops, why don’t you try some DIY? From gardening and cultivating a vegetable garden, to making your toothpaste, hair treatments, face masks… and making your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner. You can do a lot to be more eco-friendly and reduce your home plastics!
6. Support bans, sign petitions and spread the word
Be active online and add your signature to petitions that will support the environment and make a difference. Many countries have and are implementing bans on single-use plastics, so support the initiate and share it, spread the word. Stay informed on issues related to plastic pollution and tell your friends and family about how they can be part of the solution too. Encourage them!
7. Don’t use products that contain micro-beads
Micro-beads are tiny plastic particles that are often found in face scrubs, toothpastes, body washes and other cosmetics. How can something so small be so harmful? Micro-beads enter our oceans through sewage systems and consequently affect hundreds of marine species. Micro-beads have become an increasing source of ocean plastic pollution in recent years. So, avoid plastic micro-beads by searching for polythelene and polypropylene on the ingredient labels of the products. All the more reason to make some of these cosmetic products at home!
8. Support and volunteer for organisations fighting plastic pollution
There are numerous non-profit organisations working to reduce and eliminate ocean plastic pollution, including the ones here and others. These organisations rely on help and donations from people like us to continue their important and life-changing work. The smallest of donations can help make a big difference!
This list of ideas is just the beginning for addressing the growing problem of plastic pollution in our oceans. Remember though, that the important thing is that we all do something, no matter how small our actions are - at least we are doing something.
Let us know if you have any questions!
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