The Impact of Plastic in Our Ocean
Why is it so important to keep waste from ending up in our oceans?
Our planet produces over 300 million tons of plastic each year, half of which is used to create single use items such as straws, plastic bags and cups. At least 14 million tons of that plastic we produce ends up in the ocean. As a result of this, 80% of marine debris found from surface waters to deep sea sediments is made of plastic. This has a disastrous effect upon marine species as they will either ingest or become entangled by the plastic debris. It is a large contributing factor to climate change, and there is an urgent need to try and enforce government action when it comes to marine plastic pollution.
Why do we need to be more careful about where we dump our garbage?
‘The equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic enters into our oceans every minute, every day, all year long.’ This statement allows us to visually imagine how much plastic is dumped into the ocean every day, and we need to try to change this. Pollution from plastic is a worldwide problem that affects the quality of the marine environment. It threatens coastal tourism, food safety and quality, ocean health, marine species health and hugely contributes to climate change.
One simple way we have been told will help protect our planet from waste ending up in our ocean is to recycle. Individual households should be recycling along with large corporations that produce excessive amounts of plastic. However, when we look at the statistics, only 9% of all plastics have been recycled. 12% have been incinerated, leaving the remaining 79% to be dumped into landfills, the ocean, or other aspects of the environment. We cannot rely upon the entirety of the planets population to recycle their garbage; some might not have the resources for it. In the end it is down to our lifestyles, we need to reject single use items. An item we use for a few minutes should not be polluting the ocean for a lifetime.
What can we do as individuals?
In the meantime, minimising our own consumption of plastic is a lot simpler than it seems. Here are smaller things we can do as individuals to help the planet:
· Stop buying plastic water bottles and use a reusable water bottle instead
· Bring a reusable bag to the supermarket when buying groceries
· Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants
· Take part in a beach clean up
· Avoid products that have microbeads in, these can be really damaging to ocean life
· Choose paper over plastic wherever possible
Our lifestyle decisions will also impact the way manufacturers produce. If we say no to plastic, they will minimise their production of it as no one will be buying into it. By choosing a green lifestyle, this will contribute hugely to saving the planet.