There is a major plastic crisis that is happening throughout our oceans at the moment. Every year, we continue to produce billions of pounds of plastic and it’s being dispersed into our oceans. The Ocean Blue Project estimates that there are over 8 million metric tons of plastic that enter our ocean every year. Killing over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals yearly. The ocean plastic pollution crisis is severe and even though there are various organizations that aim to help, everyone’s help is necessary at this point.
Plastics take years to break down
Plastics take many years to break down. They break down into micro pieces of plastic that are harmful pollutants. Depending on the type of plastic product, plastic can take up to 1,000 years (or more) to break down in landfills.
A garbage patch is a large area of the ocean where plastic and other litter collects. They form because of ocean currents known as gyres, whirlpools that pull objects in. There are five different gyres throughout our oceans but the most famous of these patches is the The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Even though the word ‘patch’ is often associated with an area covered in trash, it’s not what many think. A patch is a section in the ocean where debris of all shapes and sizes float and remain. Since there is a large range of types of debris, it may be possible to sail through these patches and see nothing.
There are various risks and impacts that come with garbage patches being spread throughout our oceans. Marine animals can get tangled in debris and this often causes death. There have been many instances when whales, dolphins, seals, turtles, and other sea animals have washed up on shore with bellies full of plastic. Marine animals aren’t the only ones suffering from plastic, it affects humans too. We are constantly exposed to microplastics that are found in tap water, seafood, beer, and sea salt.
What can we do?
With the ocean plastic pollution crisis being as severe as it is, it’s important that we all put in work to help the cause! We’ve listed a few tips to keep in mind.
- Don’t use plastic bags!
- Every second, 160,000 plastic bags are used around the world and they are used for an average of 12 minutes
- Invest in stainless steel straws over plastic straws
- 500 million straws are used every day
- Don’t buy single use plastic water bottles
- Single use water bottles take 450 years or more to decompose
- Carry a reusable coffee cup
- About 50 billion paper coffee cups are being thrown away in the US every year
- Say no to plastic utensils
- The Ocean Conservancy has listed cutlery as one of the most deadly items to marine life and wildlife.