The last time you opened a news magazine are turned on your TV and tuned into the nightly news, you probably saw a story that related to the plastic pollution in our oceans. Now the issue becomes more personal and asks what you can do about Ocean Plastic?
From the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, to rivers in Indonesia that have stopped flowing because they are clogged with plastic debris, to marine life entrapped in abandoned fishing gear, or seabirds feeding their chicks bits of plastic mistaken for food, the stories are out there. As a result, even the Queen of England has banned plastic bags from Buckingham Palace and the United Nations declared its readiness to take action to prevent a “global disaster”. (photo – Earth.com)
All of this is raising the awareness of the public, but certainly much more needs to be done, more people, especially in developing countries must be educated to the perils of plastic.
What You Can Do About Ocean Plastic
This is an immense problem, but don’t think that it is so overwhelming that you as an individual are incapable of making a difference. Plastic is in so many of our everyday products that we don’t give them a second thought. At the supermarket we gather our food in plastic bags; we drink beverages from plastic bottles and we buy clothing made with plastics.
So, we need to start by just thinking about our everyday habits and the products we consume. Then consider alternative ways of living that are more sustainable.
What did we use before plastic straws?
A recent editorial in my local newspaper highlighted this issue. When confronted with a ban on plastic drinking straws one middle-aged reader was perplexed and asked “how can I drink from a bottle.” I responded “that straws have been around a long time but plastic straws are a fairly recent invention. What kind of straws did we use before plastic? Of course, we used paper straws.” The middle-aged reader should have remembered this however she was so locked into her present-day bad habits that she could not think of sustainable alternatives.
Many of the sustainable alternatives to single-use, plastic products are just as easy as switching from plastic to paper straws. For example, you can bring your own reusable bag from home when going grocery shopping, that’s the way it was done for hundreds of years before single-use plastic produce bags were introduced. You can bring your own reusable food container for your lunches. Or the next time you stop at Starbucks use your own reusable coffee mug, Starbucks will even reward you by giving you a discount on your purchase. And use a reusable and sustainable water bottle instead of drinking from off the shelf, single-use plastic water bottles. Changing this one habit will save you money and also save the environment.
And believe it or not, these small steps matter! Take a look at the following infographic to find out how much damage the bottled water industry is doing to our environment and after seeing behind the scenes you’ll realize that carrying our own reusable bottle is really a sacrifice we can all make.
Hope this helps to explain why we need to switch from single-use plastic bottles to sustainable alternatives. It can be done, my family has and it was easy!
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network and Molly Connell, Blue Ocean contributor.
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