We are polluting our oceans with plastic at an unprecedented rate. An already alarming situation is becoming worse every year. We are some facts:
- Nearly 18 billion pounds of land-based plastic enters the world’s oceans every year. That is equivalent to a garbage truck full of plastic every minute.
- We recycle only nine percent of the plastic produced every year. The rest is discarded, and some of it winds up in the ocean.
- The world’s oceans contain five massive patches of floating plastic. Once such patch, located between California and Hawaii, is the size of Texas.
- The amount of plastic in the oceans has increased twentyfold in the last two years. It is an escalating problem and is getting worse each year.
- It is estimated that one million sea birds, over a hundred thousand sea mammals, and millions of fish are killed by plastic waste in the ocean every year.
- The danger is not just large pieces of plastic. A greater danger is microplastic, tiny bits of plastic so small they cannot be seen (technically, less than 5mm in size)—but they can be consumed by fish and other marine species, which means that you can consume microplastic every time you eat fish or seafood.
- The average person consumes 70,000 bits of microplastic every year. Some of that comes from bottled water. Ninety-three percent of all bottled water contains microplastics. Moreover, ninety percent of table salt contains microplastic. Microplastic is so ubiquitous in our food supply that we don’t know when we’re consuming microplastic or how to reduce our consumption of it.
- Americans use more than 200 billion plastic bags every year and only one percent of those are recycled. The rest wind up in dumps or in the ocean, and plastic takes more than 400 years to decompose.
What you can do
- Recognize that this is not a political issue; it is a human issue; it is a planet issue. And it won’t be solved if we don’t face it squarely and act.
- Plastic pollution in the oceans does affect you, even if you live in the Great Plains or the mountains of Colorado.
- We are all part of the problem and can be part of the solution.
- What you can do:
- Educate yourself on the problem—and then educate your children and others.
- Vote out polluter politicians like Donald Trump and his do-nothing Republican supporters.
- Write to your elected officials and demand action.
- Write to corporations that use plastic packaging and fast food chains that use plastic and demand that they cease or refuse to buy from them.
- Contribute to or join nonprofits dedicated to ocean clean-up like The Ocean Cleanup and Free the Ocean.
- If you live near a coast, participate in beach clean-ups.
- Stop using so many plastics. Take cloth grocery bags to the supermarket and refuse to use plastic bags.
- Drink bottled water from glass containers, not plastic.
- Purchase fresh produce rather than produce packaged in plastic.
- Recycle plastics rather than throwing them away.
- Join groups dedicated to preserving the environment.
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