Plastic and polystyrene foam make up 90% of all marine debris, from floating on the surface to deep-sea sediment. Currently, more than 10 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans every year, with disastrous impact on all species that call the ocean home, either permanently, like fish, or transiently, like birds and turtles.
While these statistics are worrying, and much of the blame lies with large multinational conglomerates, there are ways you, as an individual, can help. So, if you’re feeling powerless and anxious about the ocean pollution crisis, try some of the following steps. Every little bit can make a difference.
Always seek plastic-free alternatives
Paper straws are a great start, but always ask for more. Try to eliminate as much single-use plastic from your everyday living as you can. Keep cups are great — if you drink two takeaway coffees a day, that adds up to a whopping 730 cups of coffee a year — all of which have the potential to end up in our oceans. So much potential to destroy life, eliminated by one small decision!
Use your voice
If you’re feeling powerless, one way to take back some control and make a real difference is to use your voice — whichever way you’re most comfortable with. You could write to your local MP, take to social media, or even start a podcast — the world is your oyster (if you want to save the oysters).
Organise a beach or river clean up
A cool way to actively and practically help and raise awareness at the same time, is by organising a beach or river clean up with some mates. An easy way to get everyone on board is to use your next birthday as an opportunity to get everyone involved — just tell everyone that their help can be your birthday present. Everyone wins. Especially the turtles.
Snip your face masks
A massive recent development during the COVID pandemic has been the sheer amount of face masks entering the oceans. We’re talking billions of them. As aforementioned, try to avoid single-use masks. But if you absolutely must use one, try to snip the straps before you dispose of them, as it’s those straps that end up tangling up and ultimately killing marine life.
Do your research and find a non-profit that is actively doing good things to help clean up the ocean in general, or go local and find one specific to your area or local beach. Even if you’re not loaded, even $5 goes a long way. Think of it like shouting the ocean a coffee.
Leave nothing behind
Sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people just up and leave a beach outing or river picnic and don’t bother to clean up the mess they leave behind. If we all do our part we’d see a much cleaner world.
Consider who you trust with your money
In a recent report, banks were called out for their role in financing plastic pollution in oceans. The report claims banks are “lending vast sums of capital without making any effort to address the plastic pollution crisis”.
“By indiscriminately funding actors in the plastics supply chain, banks have failed to acknowledge their role in enabling global plastic pollution. They are not introducing any due diligence systems, contingent loan criteria, or financing exclusions when it comes to the plastics industry.”
One lender attempting to combat this issue is WLTH. In collaboration with Parley for the Oceans, a global environmental organisation, they claim to be “changing the lending experience and making a difference”.
For every home loan that is settled with WLTH, they’ll assist and empower Parley for the Oceans teams to clean up 50m² of a beach or coastline throughout Australia and around the world.
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