Removing plastic from the ocean is easy, right? You just pick it up and put it in the bin. To some extent it is that simple, the challenge is removing it fast enough. It is estimated that 8 million tons of plastic makes its way into the ocean each year. That’s 22,000 tons per day or about a garbage truck per minute. It’s estimated that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Most fish have ingested plastic at some point in their life. Enough about the problem, let’s talk about solutions.
Make less plastic, particularly single-use. Plastic has created great value in its many uses so completely boycotting plastic may be impossible. However, you can choose the plastic-free options when available. Be creative, it’s fun.
Don’t dump plastic into the ocean. It is estimated that 1/5 of the plastic in the ocean comes from industrial waste such as fishing line and boating materials “lost” at sea. The rest is essentially litter that finds its way into the ocean due to irresponsible management. Tourists and beachgoers leaving their plastic at the beach have a significant impact. Plastic not recycled ends up in landfills, which can blow away during transport and storage. Plastic in cosmetics as microplastics in shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, sunscreens and etc. washes down the drain and into the ocean. Any petroleum-based ingredient in cosmetics could be a micro-plastic that will wash into the ocean and won’t biodegrade.
Remove plastic from the ocean and shoreline. This can be done by anyone anytime they are at the beach. Organize beach clean-ups and bring reusable bags for any plastic you pick up on your beach trips. If you want to take it to the next level you can scoop plastic out of the ocean in high concentration areas. Another hotspot for plastic is in rivers and storm drains. If you can stop the flow of plastic further upstream it is super beneficial.
If we all practice good consumer and citizen habits we can prevent plastic from taking over the oceans and the animals that live there.