It’s no secret the seismic amount of plastic pollution in our waterways is risking the future of ocean wildlife and delicate marine environments.
A few simple lifestyle changes to reduce plastic pollution and raise awareness of the issue is something we can all do to help tackle the problem!
Quick plastic pollution facts:
- It is estimated that by 2050 the amount of plastic in the ocean will outnumber fish.
- Since the mass production of plastic began in the 1950s, more than 8.3 billion tonnes have been produced.
- It’s estimated only 9% of the 8.3 billion tonnes has been recycled, the rest has ended up in landfills, the ocean or has been burned.
- Plastic can take up to 500 years to break down and yet we use it on a daily basis with items we throw away, often after a single use.
We’ve put together 7 easy ways you can make a difference and reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways.
#1 - Say No To Single-Use Plastics
Have you heard of the 5 Rs for cutting back on waste? If not, here they are:
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle.
Do your part to reduce the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean by putting the first R into action - say no to single-use plastics!
For example, next time you’re grabbing takeaway, say no to plastic cutlery and straws. Or refuse a plastic grocery bag or coffee cup.
These convenience items can easily enter waterways ending up as plastic pollution that damages our marine wildlife and ecosystem. Infamous cases like the sea turtle with a straw lodged in his nostril highlight how perilous single-use plastic is for wildlife.
Pack your own cutlery, metal straw, and coffee cup next time you’re out for the day.
#2 - Ditch Skincare and Body Wash With Microbeads
The microbeads found in many face washes, shower gels, and body scrubs that are designed to exfoliate skin are often made from non-biodegradable plastics coated in toxic chemicals.
The issue with these microbeads is once they wash down the drain, they’re so small most wastewater treatment facilities can’t filter them out. They end up in the ocean, becoming plastic pollution and once they enter our oceans, they’re almost impossible to remove.
They settle on the ocean floor and are eaten by marine life who ingest the toxins too.
Avoid using skincare and household products containing plastic microbeads by looking for “polythelene” and “polypropylene” on the ingredients list.
Beat The Micro Bead’s International Campaign Against Microbeads also has a series of helpful guides to help you navigate through the different products packed with micro-beads.
#3 - Improve Your Plastic Recycling Process
Here are a few quick ways to improve the ways you recycle plastic at home.
- Give plastic bottles and containers a quick rinse before discarding them
- Remove pumps from liquid soap and cleaning product bottles to put in the regular bin
- Squash plastic bottles and twist on the bottle caps before throwing them away to make the process easier for the recyclers
- Remove plastic film from trays or containers (like the kind that covers fruit and veg) and send to the regular bin as this plastic is flimsy and not recyclable
Spending a few extra minutes on your plastic recycling efforts at home might seem insignificant but it does make a difference.
#4 - Invest In A Bamboo Toothbrush
Your plastic toothbrush is a bigger environmental problem than you might realise.
Plastic toothbrush handles and synthetic bristles are contributing to plastic pollution at a speedy rate - billions of plastic toothbrushes are thrown out around the world each year.
The ones that find their way into our oceans break down and become microplastics, releasing toxic chemicals and littering the marine environment with plastic.
You can do your part by investing in a bamboo toothbrush with a fully biodegradable handle to minimise the amount of plastic waste. There are also some non-vegan toothbrushes available that are entirely biodegradable, including the bristle which are made from pig hair.
#5 - Support Causes Tackling Plastic Pollution
Get behind organisations who are doing their part to fight plastic pollution. Many not-for-profit organisations rely on our donations to keep up their great work raising awareness and strategically tackling the plastic problem.
You can also buy from brands with a sustainable philosophy who are creating reusable and recycled products to combat plastic pollution as another way to support the cause.
#6 - Take Part In An Event On World Oceans Day - June 8
June 8 is World Oceans Day and there are some great events to join, including beach clean ups, to do your part in making our oceans cleaner and safer for marine animals.
If you can’t find a local event to join, why not organise one yourself? Or, you could host a documentary night at home with friends to watch a documentary that raises awareness about plastic pollution.
#7 - Next Time You're At The Beach, Clean Up!
Pick up a few pieces of plastic rubbish you spot hanging around next time you’re at the beach or river and put them in a recycling bin.
There are different sources for this pollution; it could have been left on the beach, thrown overboard from a boat, or flushed down a sewer. Be prepared and take a pair of gloves with you for the collection process!
“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. - Howard Zinn”
Beat The Microbead
The Plastic Free Pledge
World Oceans Day
By 2050, There Will Be More Plastic Than Fish In The Ocean Study Says
Science Daily - More than 8.3 billion tons of plastics made: Most has now been discarded
The Lifecycle Of Plastic