Together, we can end the ocean pollution crisis
By renting a boat on sail.me, we want to encourage you to keep our oceans free of waste, use less plastic and recycle all your waste during your boat trip.
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Oceans cover 71 percent of the planet and are home to important species and ecosystems that we rely on for food, livelihoods, climate regulation and more. But the oceans need our help. Saving the oceans can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task, but if we all pitch in, we can make a big difference.
Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to ocean health worldwide. With skyrocketing plastic production, low levels of recycling, and poor waste management, between 4 and 12 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year - enough to cover every foot of coastline on the planet! And that amount is expected to more than double in the next 10 years. Let that sink in for a moment.
In the ocean, plastic pollution impacts sea turtles, whales, seabirds, fish, coral reefs, and countless other marine species and habitats. In fact, scientists estimate that more than half of the world’s sea turtles and nearly every seabird on Earth have eaten plastic in their lifetimes. Plastic pollution also mars otherwise beautiful beaches, coastlines, and snorkel and dive sites worldwide, even in remote areas such as Midway Atoll.
One of the reasons that plastic pollution is such a problem is that it doesn't go away: "plastics are forever." Instead, plastic debris simply breaks down into ever-smaller particles, known as microplastics, whose environmental impacts are still being determined.
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How can I help?
Everyone can do something to reduce the amount of plastic that enters the ocean. Here are ten ways you can make a difference.
Plastic bags, bottles and other items are present in very (very) large quantities in our oceans, they are ingested by marine mammals or accumulate in nature and on our beaches. Different kinds of plastic can degrade at different times, but the average time for a plastic item to completely degrade is at least 450 years. It can even take some plastics 1000 years to biodegrade.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a colossal floating mass of plastic that currently measures three times the size of France. Wildlife often mistakes floating bits of plastic for food and ingest them, with dire consequences.
For example, sea turtles mistake floating plastic bags for jellies, and birds will often mistake plastic pellets for fish eggs. The birds bring the plastic back to their chicks who then die of ruptured stomachs. A dead albatross found on a Hawaiian island had 119 plastic bottle caps in its stomach. A dead sperm whale found on a North American beach not only had a body full of plastic, but the one-gallon bottle was found clogging up its small intestine.
Unfortunately, this is not the only floating garbage mass in our oceans. The Atlantic and Indian oceans have their own floating trash piles, and evidence suggests more areas are being affected… Reusing plastic items can significantly reduce Ocean pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy usage.
Refuse disposable utensils: Straws, cutlery, tumblers and plastic bags… #How many times have you eaten out at a restaurant and been handed a plastic-wrapped packet of plastic utensils? (Say that five times fast!) Or you brought your lunch to work (high five!) but left your handy dandy metal utensils at home, so you’re forced use the plastic forks and knives from your office’s drawers?
Plastic forks, knives and spoons may be convenient, but they’re wreaking havoc on our oceans. In fact, six million tons of non-durable plastics are discarded every year. "Non-durable" means that the plastic has a useful life of less than three years. Other examples of non-durable plastics include plastic packaging, trash bags, cups, and more.
While efforts are being made to remove debris from the oceans, improve recycling systems, and innovate barriers to prevent plastic from getting into waterways, we can all take action in our daily lives to stop plastic waste at the source!
In September, France became the first country to ban plastic cups, plates and cutlery. As part of the Energy Transition for Green Growth plan, it should come into effect in 2020 and is part of a wider green initiative to tackle climate change.
This should go without saying, but when you use single-use (and other) plastics that can be recycled, always be sure to recycle them. At present, just 9% of plastic is recycled worldwide. Recycling helps keep plastics out of the ocean and reduces the amount of “new” plastic in circulation. If you need help finding a place to recycle plastic waste near you, check Earth911’s recycling directory. It's also important to check with your local recycling center about the types of plastic they accept.
Recycling is an important factor in conserving natural resources and greatly contributes towards improving the environment. Below are some helpful hints about recycling in and around the home.
- Find ways of recycling different materials : Many materials can be recycled, such as paper, plastic, metal and glass. Other items such as furniture, electronic equipment, building material and vehicles can also be recycled but many people don’t often think to do so.
- Buy products that can be recycled : When shopping at the supermarket, buy products that can be recycled easily such as glass jars and tin cans.
- Buy products that have been made from recycled material: You can tell if a product is eco-friendly by looking at the label on the packaging.
- Avoiding buying hazardous material.
- Recycle bins.
Naturally, we feel a little protective of our beaches. We’re shocked to see that some people don’t care as much about our beaches as we do. When we spot trash and debris littering our beloved beaches, it’s upsetting - not only because it damages the beauty of the beach, but also because it hurts the fragile ecosystems that call the beach home.
Each individual can better the ocean’s ecosystem by playing their part in keeping the beaches clean. The process is simple, easy, and a great lesson for the entire family!
Along with the beach towels and umbrellas, bring along something to keep your trash in. This way you know where your trash is going and it is easier to keep track of. If you are eating at the beach utilize spaces designed for eating. Some beaches offer picnic benches and areas to snack. Use these areas to throw away waste and prevent anything from scattering across the sand.
Be prepared to see trash already on the beach. Not everyone has a perfect memory and may forget about their waste or it may have been blow away from them by the wind. If you find someone else’s trash on the beach, be kind and pick it up. I would wish for someone to do the same if I forgot about the trash left behind
4. Leave nothing behind
5. Use ocean-friendly products
Avoid products produced through unsustainable or environmentally harmful methods. These products are directly linked to unsustainable fishing methods and the destruction of entire ecosystems. There are many products directly linked to harming endangered or threatened species, unsustainable fishing methods and pollution. For example, avoid cosmetics that contain shark squalene, jewelry made of coral or sea turtle shell, souvenir shells of conchs, nautiluses and other animals. These products support unsustainable fishing and threaten important species and ecosystems.
Microbeads are small, solid, manufactured plastic particles that are less than 5mm and don’t degrade or dissolve in water. They may be added to a range of products, including rinse-off cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products like face scrubs, toothpastes, and bodywashes. Microbeads are used as ingredients in these products for a variety of purposes. This includes as an abrasive or exfoliant, a bulking agent, for controlled timed release of active ingredients, and to prolong shelf life. They are also a relatively cheap ingredient. Microbeads are not captured by most wastewater treatment systems. If they are washed down drains after use, they can end up in rivers, lakes and oceans.
Once in the water, microbeads can have a damaging effect on marine life, the environment and human health. This is due to their composition, ability to adsorb toxins and potential to transfer up the marine food chain. These tiny plastics persist in the environment as they are almost impossible to remove. The best way to reduce their impact is to prevent them from entering the environment.
Microbeads have become a growing source of ocean plastic pollution in recent years. These microbeads can now be found in the worlds oceans – as far away from human habitation as the Arctic, trapped in the diminishing sea ice, floating in the water columns and being consumed by all of marine life. Avoid products containing plastic microbeads by looking for “polyethylene” and “polypropylene” on the ingredient labels of your cosmetic products.
6. Avoid microbeads
7. Eat sustainable seafood
Choose seafood that is healthy for you and the oceans from well-managed, wild fisheries. We know it’s hard to know what fish are okay to eat, which is why you can turn to these helpful resources:
- Print or download a guide from Seafood Watch to help you make sustainable choices when you buy or order seafood, and learn about eco-certification of seafood.
- Refer to these top chefs for sustainable seafood recipes.
- Consider adding small, oily fish that are packed with protein to your diet.
When fertilizers are used in gardening and agriculture, the excess eventually ends up in the ocean. One of the most devastating pollutants are the nitrogen and phosphorus found in our fertilizer and sewage. When too much of either washes downstream, coastal waters become choked with heavily fertilized algae, which then dies and decomposes, consuming the oxygen in the water and asphyxiating animal life. This process, called eutrophication, has created at least 405 “dead zones” worldwide... Since all marine life requires oxygen to live, including fish and shrimp, they must flee the area or die.
8. Use less fertilizer
9. Join a cause
There are many non-profit organizations working to reduce and eliminate ocean plastic pollution in a variety of different ways, including Oceanic Society, Plastic Pollution Coalition, 5 Gyres, Algalita, Plastic Soup Foundation, and others. These organizations rely on donations from people like you to continue their important work. Even small donations can make a big difference!
Electing public officials that support good ocean policies can help us protect marine life and our oceans. Do your research on candidates and make an informed decision, then exercise your right (and responsibility) to vote. And don’t let Election Day be the last time they hear from you. Follow up with your candidates and elected officials regularly to remind them of policies you care about.
The last and most important step we should take is to simply spread the cause. People need to understand the effects of their actions and how we will all eventually suffer from the pollution. There are groups like Rise Above Plastics that we can join, but there are even simpler ways to make a change. Social media is a great way to get the message out to a wider demographic.
Even if your platform only reaches a few hundred people, every little change helps. Perhaps the easiest way to raise awareness is living by example. Only drink from a reusable water bottle, use canvas bags at the grocery store and always recycle. If we want to save our oceans, every person needs to know and understand the cause.
10. Spread the word
Source and more info:https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/plastics-and-packaging/plastic-microbeadshttps://www.oceanicsociety.org/blog/1720/7-ways-to-reduce-ocean-plastic-pollution-todayhttps://passportocean.com/2018/10/14/ocean-pollution-solutionshttps://oceana.org/living-blue/10-ways-you-can-help-save-oceans