Solutions To Reduce Ocean Pollution Today
1. Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics
Wherever you live, the easiest and most direct way that you can get started is by reducing your own use of single-use plastics. Single-use plastics include plastic bags, water bottles, straws, cups, utensils, dry cleaning bags, take-out containers, and any other plastic items that are used once and then discarded.
The best way to do this is by a) refusing any single-use plastics that you do not need (e.g. straws, plastic bags, takeout utensils, takeout containers), and b) purchasing, and carrying with you, reusable versions of those products, including reusable grocery bags, produce bags, bottles, utensils, coffee cups, and dry cleaning garment bags. And when you refuse single-use plastic items, help businesses by letting them know that you would like them to offer alternatives.
2. Recycle Properly
This should go without saying, but when you use single-use (and other) plastics that can be recycled, always be sure to recycle them. At present, just 9% of plastic is recycled worldwide. Recycling helps keep plastics out of the ocean and reduces the amount of “new” plastic in circulation. If you need help finding a place to recycle plastic waste near you, check Earth911’s recycling directory. It’s also important to check with your local recycling center about the types of plastic they accept.
3. Participate In (or Organize) a Beach or River Cleanup
Help remove plastics from the ocean and prevent them from getting there in the first place by participating in or organizing a cleanup of your local beach or waterway. This is one of the most direct and rewarding ways to fight ocean plastic pollution. You can simply go to the beach or waterway and collect plastic waste on your own or with friends or family, or you can join a local organization’s cleanup or an international event like the International Coastal Cleanup.
4 – Picking up trash on the beach
Naturally, we feel a little protective of our beaches. We’re shocked to see that some people don’t care as much about our beaches as we do. When we spot trash and debris littering our beloved beaches, it’s upsetting—not only because it damages the beauty of the beach, but also because it hurts the fragile ecosystems that call the beach home.
5 – Reduce energy use
Drastic reductions will help reduce Oceans’ temperatures. Current increases in temperatures are threatening marine life and starving it with scarce levels of oxygen. Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is making our oceans more acidic. One consequence could be the loss of corals on a global scale, as their calcium skeletons are weakened by the increasing acidity of the water.
There are many simple ways you can reduce your energy use. Ride a bike, walk or use public transportation. Use high-efficiency appliances in your home. Turn off appliances when they aren’t in use. Turn up your thermostat a few degrees in the summer and down a few degrees in the winter. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in your house…
6 – Use less fertilizer
When fertilizers are used in gardening and agriculture, the excess eventually ends up in the ocean. One of the most devastating pollutants is the nitrogen and phosphorus found in our fertilizer and sewage. When too much of either washes downstream, coastal waters become choked with heavily fertilized algae, which then dies and decomposes, consuming the oxygen in the water and asphyxiating animal life. This process, called eutrophication, has created at least 405 “dead zones” worldwide... Since all marine life requires oxygen to live, including fish and shrimp, they must flee the area or die.
7 – Avoid Products Containing Microbeads
Tiny plastic particles, called “microbeads,” have become a growing source of ocean plastic pollution in recent years. Microbeads are found in some face scrubs, toothpaste, and body washes…
These microbeads can now be found in the world’s oceans – as far away from human habitation as the Arctic, trapped in the diminishing sea ice, floating in the water columns, and being consumed by all of marine life. Avoid products containing plastic microbeads by looking for “polyethylene” and “polypropylene” on the ingredient labels of your cosmetic products.
How can you help our ocean?
- 1. Conserve Water Use less water so excess runoff and wastewater will not flow into the ocean.
- 2. Reduce Pollutants Choose nontoxic chemicals and dispose of herbicides, pesticides, and cleaning products properly.
- 3. Reduce Waste Cut down on what you throw away.
- 4. Shop Wisely Choose sustainable seafood. Buy less plastic and bring a reusable bag.
- 5. Reduce Vehicle Pollution Use fuel-efficient vehicles, carpool, or ride a bike.
- 6. Use Less Energy Choose energy-efficient light bulbs and don’t overset your thermostat.
On the Water
- 7. Fish Responsibly Follow “catch and release” practices and keep more fish alive.
- 8. Practice Safe Boating Anchor in sandy areas far from coral and seagrasses. Adhere to “no wake” zones.
- 9. Respect Habitat Healthy habitat and survival go hand in hand. Treat with care.
10. Anytime, Anywhere
- Volunteer for cleanups at the beach and in your community. You can get involved in protecting your watershed too!
10 Ocean Pollution Facts
Fact 1: Plastics are the most common element found in the ocean today. Plastic, in particular, is harmful to the environment as it does not break down easily and is often mistaken as food by marine animals.
Fact 2: According to a study done by the University of Georgia, 18 billion pounds of plastic trash winds up in our oceans each year. To put that in perspective, it’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic…compounding every year.
Fact 3: The 5 most common items found in coastal cleanups around the world are all single-use plastics. They are plastic cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, and plastic straws and drink stirrers.
Fact 4: There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea.
Fact 5: 80% of trash in the ocean is from land-based sources, including individuals, industry, and improper waste management/infrastructure. Only 20% is the result of ocean-based sources, such as the fishing, shipping, and cruise ship industries.
Fact 6: Plastics cause more than 80% of the negative effects on animals associated with ocean trash.
Fact 7: There is an island of garbage twice the size of Texas inside the Pacific Ocean: the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California is the largest oceanic garbage site in the entire world. It’s here that the number of floating plastic pieces in the water outnumbers total marine life six to one in the immediate vicinity.
Fact 8: Ocean pollution kills more than one million sea birds each year.
Fact 9: A recent survey found ocean pollution is more common in deep waters (more than 2,000 feet deep), with the most common offenders being plastic bags, metal cans, fishing equipment, glass bottles, shoes, and tires.
Fact 10: Research estimates anywhere from 15 to 51 trillion particles of floating microplastic are in our oceans, weighing between 205-520 million pounds. This includes plastic microbeads (used as exfoliates in some personal care products) and synthetic fibers, both of which are too small to be filtered out by many wastewater treatment plants.