The theme of this year's World Ocean Day is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet” and individuals and organizations across the planet are taking action for prevention of plastic pollution in our ocean.
Cos plastic ain't fantastic!
More and more plastic waste is ending up in our oceans and seas. Due to the effects of weathering, sunlight and wave action, this plastic reduces to smaller particles - leading to serious pollution. The oceans occupy 72% of the earth’s surface and they are our principal source of oxygen.
Plastic in ocean environments is deadly for many marine animals and does not degrade biologically. Cos of the breakdown and fragmentation of it into smaller particles, ocean water has been transformed into a sort of global microplastic soup or Plastic Soup. Even worse is that toxins are released from the plastic. All sorts of organisms living in or off the sea – even the smallest of critters – can mistakenly chow the plastic debris and microplastic for food. This means that often toxic waste to enter our food chain. Eish.
For more than half the world’s population, oceans provide the principal source of food, so besides screwing with the environment, plastic marine pollution can be seriously damaging to our health. Most of the plastic pollution comes from land sources - being dumped by industries and cities, and finds its way to the sea via rivers, canals and harbors.
What you need to know about plastic pollution
Eight million metric tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year, according to a UC Santa Barbara study in February 2015.
This is equivalent to five plastic shopping bags filled with plastic debris for every foot of coastline on Earth.
Plastic is gradually eroded into small fragments known as micro-plastics, which along with plastic pellets, are already found on most beaches worldwide.
The amount of plastic waste will be greater than the number of fish in our oceans by 2050, research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found in January.
Researchers estimate the amount of plastic in the ocean is set to increase ten-fold by 2020.
More than five trillion pieces of plastic weighing over 250,000 tonnes is afloat in the sea, according to a study published in the scientific journal Plos One.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a vast gyre of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean, but while the term is widely used, it is not entirely accurate. Marine debris concentrates in various regions of the North Pacific.
Eighty percent of marine pollution comes from the land, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
What can you do?
Let's keep it simple. You can save the ocean's one bag at a time. Just make the commitment to stop using plastic bags, and make the effort to take re-usable cloth bags to the shop with you. That's one less bag in the ocean. Every time you shop.
After every surf, grab a piece or three of litter as you walk back up the beach to your cabbie. That's one (or 3) less pieces of plastic or rubbish that'll end up in the sea.
Every lil bit helps, and if everyone does a little bit it can end up having a big impact.