June 8th is World Oceans Day.
Humans and animals depend on the ocean for survival. 75% of the planet is covered by oceans. Not only do oceans generate our climate, but they regulate oxygen and supply us with food and medicine.
The oceans are one of the few places left on Earth where there are still new things being discovered all the time. It’s estimated that there are between 700,000 to a million species living in the ocean, many which have yet to be described or named. A healthy ocean is imperative to survival on Earth.
There’s a major problem though: plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is the theme for 2018’s World Ocean Day.
Plastic has literally changed our world. Yes, there are benefits of plastic, but the negatives are truly detrimental.
It’s estimated that over 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into our oceans each year. But it gets worse- 236,000 tons are considered microplastics, which are smaller than 5 mm long. Many seabirds and marine animals can not distinguish these pieces of microplastics from food, so they end up being ingested. According to National Geographic, almost every species of seabirds will be eating plastic by 2050. Production of plastics have increased exponentially, and the more produced, the worse the dilemma gets.
What can be done about this critical problem? Making our oceans healthier is an extremely challenging global issue. If we want our oceans to ever improve, even a little, the problem needs to be tackled worldwide. There are many organizations and scientists working on solutions for removing plastic from the oceans. In the meantime, we can all do something to reduce our impact. Every little bit counts, and even each individual taking small steps to reduce their plastic waste can make a huge difference in the long term.
- Avoid single-use plastics. Examples of single-use plastics include straws, plastic bags, beverage bottles, and coffee stirrers. There are many reusable items that can be used instead of single-use plastics.
- Recycle plastics properly. Educate yourself on the different types of plastic and how to recycle them in your area. Improper recycling can be just as damaging as not recycling.
- Spread the word. Inform your family and friends about plastic pollution and how they can help.
Our oceans are fascinating places that are brimming with life. It’s up to us to take care of them so we can continue to enjoy them. Together we can make a difference.
If you’d like to learn more about World Oceans Day/oceans in general/plastic pollution check out the following websites.
World Oceans Day website: http://www.worldoceansday.org/
NOAA’s National Ocean Service: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/
National Geographic Planet or Plastic? (has links to many sources I used for this article): https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/planetorplastic/
To read an article I wrote a few years ago about Plastics and Laysan Albatrosses check out Trouble in Paradise