Whether you’re taking a walk in the countryside or a stroll along a beach, plastic seems to be everywhere. Due to the consumerist lifestyle, it is practically impossible to escape from it. But there are things that you can to live sustainably. When you join the #movethedate campaign you’ll find out about the earth’s global sustainability footprint, your personal sustainability footprint and what you can do to move the date.
Our Plastic Lifestyle
Plastic is the key element that makes up our computers, phones and even the wrapping that our food comes in and now, what we depend on is bringing our planet to a crisis point. Once this plastic is discarded, it is either thrown away with general waste, or recycled. If it does not get recycled properly it will either go into one of the many landfill sites found around the world or it is dumped in offshore waste sites. Even though these sites are hundreds of miles off the coast, the ocean has an amazing way of spitting these plastics back out, causing a huge accumulation of waste being found on beaches and coastlines all over the world.
In 2013, researchers compiled data collected over a 6-year period and discovered that there was more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean, increasing every year by 8 million tons. (photo – Bo Eide Flickr)
Plastic can take up to 500 years to break down, however once this process starts, it leaches toxins into the surrounding environment, whether it be through surface runoff, leaking its way into surrounding waterways, or it can take place directly in the ocean, affecting the surrounding marine life.
These toxins have caused detrimental effects within the ocean and surrounding lands. Some areas around the world are now completely devoid of life due to the high levels of toxicity within the water. There is an area in Gulf of Mexico that stretches for more than 500 square miles that is now classed as a ‘Dead Zone’. Sadly, there are more than 405 ‘dead zones’ found in the oceans all over the world.
It doesn’t matter if plastic pollution accumulates on land or in the ocean, it can still find a way to get into our food chain and affect us directly. Plankton and other microscopic marine life have the ability to absorb the toxins created by the degradation of plastic. They are eaten in the masses by fish and other larger marine creatures, which then end up on our plates.
This is why, making a change and doing what we can collectively, to help raise awareness and help to clean up our planet needs to start now. If we don’t do something immediately, not only will our oceans and lands suffer, but we as a human race will face untold consequences.
Join the #movethedate campaign and make a difference
Why not take part in the #movethedate campaign that was created by the GFN (Global Footprint Network)? From the 1st of August 2017, the world overshot its yearly resource budget for 2018 in just 7 months. This is 1.7 times faster than the earth can regenerate. As part of the #movethedate campaign, the creators have come up with a number of ways that you can make a difference to your daily lives.
- Becoming vegetarian or opting for less meat consumption.
- Instead of driving to work, why not take public transport?
- Speak and engage with your local community leadership about what’s happening to the planet.
- Reduce your food waste.
- Take action alongside organisations advocating a healthy and sustainable earth.
- Keep a check on your own footprint.
There are also a number of ways that you can prevent more plastic from entering the ocean and therefore entering our food chain…
1. Avoid Microplastics
When choosing cosmetics as well as toothpastes and even certain children’s toys, be aware of microplastics. These are tiny little pieces of plastic that get flushed down the drain and inevitably end up in the ocean and then on your plate.
2. Avoid Single Use Plastics
Even though it is difficult to eradicate plastics from your life completely, it is possible to reduce them considerably and you can do this by not buying single-use plastics. This includes not using or buying plastic water bottles, why not get a BPA free reusable one? When going to the grocery store, make sure you choose single fruit and veg, not ones that have been pre-packaged. Additionally, makes sure to use fabric shopping bags.
3. Watch your takeaway consumption
Every time you purchase a takeaway, they bring the food steaming hot in plastic containers. These containers do not always get recycled properly and end up within the ocean. If you do choose to get a takeaway, make sure to call the restaurant to ask them if they can use biodegradable food containers and if not, why not take a reusable one to them for them to fill?
4. Get Ocean Updates
Why not sign up for ocean updates? This will not only keep you informed about vital information about the oceans, but also what kind of campaigns are going on around you, which you may want to get involved in.
By Torben Lonne, Blue Ocean Contributor
Torben is the Editor in Chief of Divein, one of the highest rated, online scuba diving/travel magazines. Torben completed his Divemaster and instructor course in Bali and then in 2008, with his brother Nicolai, they founded Divein.com.
Torben spends a lot of time in the world’s oceans and has become very passionate about ocean plastic pollution. We plan to read many more Blue Ocean contributions by Torben.
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