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Why We Still Need To Talk About Plastic Pollution

08.06.2022 | By Hope Titley

What can we do when it comes to plastic pollution?

Happy World Oceans Day!

The ocean is a pretty amazing place, and with about 71% of the earth’s surface being covered in water, it’s also one of the most important ones. It provides livelihoods, food, and water and is one of the most biodiverse habitats you can find – but it needs protecting. 

At this point, you’d struggle to find someone who hasn’t heard “save the turtles” when complaining about paper straws, or another person who has cut down on their fish intake after watching Blue Planet. 

But after the existence of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a collection of marine debris spanning the ocean between Japan and the U.S. states of Hawaii and California – was widely acknowledged, it seems like the reality of our plastic problem is finally starting to hit home.  And it’s not the only garbage patch, it’s simply the biggest. When you consider the huge scale of these garbage patches, and that “Oceanographers and ecologists recently discovered that about 70% of marine debris actually sinks to the bottom of the ocean”*, the reality of our pollution starts to hit home. 

 

This World Oceans Day, we need to make changes. But don’t let eco-anxiety take over just yet, as there are still things we can do. 

 

Reduce

The key to changing the amount of plastic we consume is to reduce the amount of single-use plastic we use in the first place. Granted, this isn’t always possible and it requires more effort and planning, but if we stop buying single-use plastic, we can directly minimise the amount that ends up polluting our oceans and harming marine life. 

 

Reuse

And we aren’t talking about pristine glass jars in an aesthetically pleasing kitchen (though there is nothing wrong with this). For the same reason we love swapping our clothes, reusing what you already own creates ZERO waste – so get on it! Repurpose ice cream pots to store your leftovers in. Grab old butter tubs and put your veggies in them. It’s all about getting creative and reusing what you already have. 

 

Put Our Money Where Our Mouth Is

When it comes to big companies making change, nothing speaks to them quite like money. If we, as consumers, avoid products packaged in this plastic and instead place our money into sustainable and biodegradable alternatives, companies will start to make changes.

 

If You Can, Speak Out

We can do as much as we can as an individual, but some things require a bigger change.  Bring it up to your local MPs, challenge them and ask what your government is doing about plastic pollution. Question them on what processes they use to recycle or reuse plastic, instead of just disposing of it. If you have the opportunity to do so, be vocal about this issue.

 

Take Care of Your Beaches

If you’re lucky enough to live near the ocean, or visit every once in a while, then make sure you leave no trace. Pick up all your litter and dispose of it responsibly. If you fancy getting more hands-on, then why not take part in a beach clean? 

If you’re unsure where to start and need some help, then we’d highly recommend checking out Surfers Against Sewage, an environmental charity that focuses on tackling plastic pollution!

 

Glossary:

Marine Debris: Litter that has found its way into the ocean, seas, and other large bodies of water

Ghost Nets: Fishing nets that have been either purposely discarded or accidentally lost, drifting through the ocean, entangling whales, seals, and turtles. 

 

Sources:

*https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

https://theoceancleanup.com/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/article/great-pacific-garbage-patch-isnt-what-you-think/?utm_source=BibblioRCM_Row