The oceans are dying. But it’s not too late to help. Plastic marine litter affects at least 267 species worldwide including sea turtles, whales, dolphins and marine birds. A huge amount of plastic litter ends up in our oceans every year.
As a result, the ocean currents have formed five massive whirlpools where the plastic collects, named Vortexes. Recent studies indicated that at least 40 million pounds ofplastic has collected and is floating in the North Pacific Ocean alone. Most of the plastic litter remain in the Vortexes but a high percentage washes onto our beaches. The majority of the plastic in our oceans is broken into small pieces 1/4 of an inch or smaller and scattered over massive areas. Over time plastic debris can often get as small as a grain of sand, named mermaid tears. This is a very big threat to aquatic life and seabirds as it mimics plankton and gets eaten. Plastic has become part of the food chain and most ocean animals now have plastic in their stomach.
The center of a Vortex, where the plastic concentration is highest, is constantly moving. It is difficult to collect and retrieve this plastic without harming fish and other sea life. Only a minority of plastic pollution floats on or near the surface, while the majority sinks to the ocean floor. While it still seems impossible to clean up the Vortexes, huge volumes of plastic debris wash up on beaches and shorelines where it can be collected easily and fed into a recycling system.
It takes over 400 years for plastic to fully biodegrade.
Our planet is exhausted and polluted, and that is exactly why we need to be more responsible. Leading environmentalists see the end of most sea life happening within the next 6–16 years. Plastic is a design failure, one that can be resolved if we recreate the material. We can save ocean life by cleaning up shorelines and intercepting the production of virgin plastic through closed loop recycling systems.
Unfortunately we all mindlessly and instinctively consume single use plastic products. While the industries that make plastic products should work toward solving the plastic crisis, we can all take action too.
There are some things you can do to help the war on plastic:
1. Carry your own reusable bottle. You can use this to refill on water or for your take away coffee. (The refusal of plastic coated coffee cups and plastic stirrers will decrease the demand and eventually lessen and stop the supply). We love eco bottles by Kleen Kanteen – they look great and do great things for the environment. Our last blog post was about our favourite brands/people leading the way in the war on plastic - Kleen Kanteen are definitely up there too!
2. Carry your own shopping bag. Since the plastic bag charge was introduced in England, there has been a huge 85% drop in their use. With a little planning, reusable cloth tote bags can be stuffed into your bags, pockets, car, etc and will eliminate the need for plastic bags at the checkout.
3. Say no to single use cutlery and straws. Every year 40billion single-use plastic utensils are produced and consumed. They are not recycled. These items are ranked among the top ten most common types of beach and marine litter. There are options out there to avoid this - simply keeping metal utensils in your desk drawer, bag or car helps immensely. We’ve all been there – caught out buying a salad or yoghurt at a café or shop with only plastic cutlery on offer. With a little organisation, sitautions like this can be avoided. Consider carrying your own travel spoon or fork…or even spork! The USA alone uses half a billion straws a day which end up in the ocean killing marine life. With just a little planning we can avoid this - we love the plastic straw alternatives from eco straws. You can take these metal straws everywhere with you! If you are in a restaurant or pub ordering a drink, try to stop them giving you a plastic straw before they get the drink to you. To refuse the straw after it has been given to you means it will inevitably end up in the trash and eventually the ocean.
4. Ditch cosmetics with mircobeads. The UK government have thankfully announced a ban on microbeads, but until this law is put in place in 2018 there will still be products around with microbeads available to purchase. Check the labels before you buy – look out for products containing polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon - avoid avoid avoid. There are many exfoliators out there that use natural elements. We love the natural scrubs available from St.Ives that has 100% natural exfoliants and doesn’t break the bank! Also anything from Lush is a great option as they use natural ingredients and do not test on animals. Ever considered using sugar as an exfoliator? Sugar mixed with coconut oil makes for an awesome facial or body scrub!
5. Avoid fruit and veg wrapped in plastic - try shopping local. When you are in the supermarket make a conscious decision to avoid excessive food packaging. Loose fruit and veg is usually cheaper than the pre packaged plastic options, it just takes a tiny amount of effort to bag your own up – try to use the paper mushroom bags that are available (the small plastic bags end up in the ocean and get eaten by turtles as they imitate jellyfish). Alternatively pick up your fruit and veg from the local farm shop – supporting independents and eating organic!
6. Spread the word - help others reduce their plastic use. Inform your friends and family of the plastic crisis, how plastic affects our oceans and how they can take the steps above to decrease their plastic use.
These guidelines have been summarised below for your easy reference :) Together we can fight the war on plastic!!