5 New Years Resolutions to Prevent Plastic Pollution in the Ocean

Source: Greenpeace/Willie Mackenzie - January 8, 2016 in Environment

5 New Years Resolutions to Prevent Plastic Pollution in the Ocean
Photo: Edward Conde/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The New Year’s storms have brought a lurid, unmissable reminder to UK beaches, with thousands of bright pink detergent bottles being churned up by the sea. As waves of highly-visible plastic trash hit British beaches, it’s a timely reminder of a much bigger problem: we are turning our oceans into plastic soup. It’s been estimated recently that about EIGHT MILLION TONNES of plastic ends up in the ocean each year.

Plastic can be amazing. But when it’s reduced to disposable, throwaway items, there’s a big problem – there simply is no ‘away’ to throw it to. And plastic hangs around for a very, very long time. A lot of plastic rubbish finds its way into the ocean. Most of that you will never see, as it’s broken down into tiny particles. But these ‘microplastics’ have been finding their way into ocean food chains for a long time, and now they are starting to turn up in the fish you eat, and in the sea salt you sprinkle on your chips. Bigger bits of plastic meanwhile are eaten by seabirds, fish, turtles and whales, which die with stomachs full of plastic, assuming they’ve not been unlucky enough to get ensnared and killed by plastic before then.

There are some massive solutions needed, but the most important one is obviously for less plastic to be thrown away in the first place.  And that’s something we can all help with. Every bit of plastic not used, not thrown away, or not left lying around is a good thing. The simple idea here is ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ – in that order. Sure we’ve heard it hundreds of times, but it’s never more true than it is with plastics.

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