Plastic Pollution In Our Seas

How can we help cut down plastic pollution in our seas?

Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year and at least 8 million tons of it end up in our seas every year. All the plastic that ends up in the sea gets ingested by marine life which causes severe injuries (from being tangled) and deaths.

  • Turtles eat plastic bags mistaking them for jellyfish.
  • Seabirds are found with their stomachs full of plastic objects.
  • Plastic debris gets lodged in coral and affects the health of reefs, these are slowly dying, and scientists are battling to save these reefs.
  • When fish are ingesting these plastics, the problem is passed back to us because we are then eating the fish.

Plastic is cheap and durable therefore it is used in most industries especially with packaging which is the problem. We do have other options; biodegradable plastic and recyclable plastic that can be used instead which is much better – it breaks down a lot quicker and easier than standard plastic.

The main sources of plastic pollution are based on land, sewer overflows, beach visitors, industrial activities, construction and illegal dumping. We can help reduce these causes (see last section for ways we can help).

The most disturbing impacts of marine plastics are ingestion and suffocation of hundreds of sea species. Seabirds, whales, fishes and turtles mistake plastic for prey and end up dying of starvation as their stomachs are filled with plastic. Plastic is a petroleum product which also contributes to global warming. If plastic is incinerated, it will release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, increasing carbon emissions.

What can we do to help?

We all need to act now by making sure we are cutting down our plastic usage, recycling what we can and trying to only use plastics that can be recycled, or which are biodegradable/compostable. Public awareness is an especially important part of making a change, teaching our children from a young age how to recycle and reuse is a part of this, it makes generations ahead of us understand the importance.

There are schemes like bottle deposits which are a great place to start but the real difference will be made when we can ban single use plastics like bottles and cutlery. In Norway, 95% of all plastic bottles are now recycled, compared with England now where the rate is 57%. About half of all the plastic bottles used in a year in England are water bottles.

As individuals we can start helping by doing the following:

  • Carry a reusable cup or flask for your coffee/tea. Nearly 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away every year in the uk, that is 7 million a day. Less than 1% of these can be recycled this means most of them spend 50 years in landfill.
  • Bring your own bottle – Plastic bottles are one of the most frequently found items on beach cleans. The lids end up in seabirds’ stomachs.
  • Don’t use plastic cutlery – You can reuse your plastic cutlery if you already have some instead of throwing it away, or even better you can buy wooden cutlery or just bring your fork or spoon in from home.
  • Don’t use plastic straws – If you don’t need a straw don’t use one, the good news is that most of the hospitality sector are now using paper straws. You can do the same!
  • Don’t use cling film – Clingfilm cannot be recycled you can use foil instead which is recyclable!
  • Loose tea – Try to use loose tea if possible, with a tea strainer instead of tea bags, tea bags are made up of microscopic plastics that end up in the sea one way or another. Pukka Tea and Teapigs teabags are plastic free. PG have brought in biodegradable tea bags.

If you are a company, why not organise a beach clean and get your local community together too. You can encourage your staff to recycle by introducing internal and external bins for recycling plastics, paper, card & glass. At Recycling Bins Direct we sell a vast variety of recycling bins, internal and external, these can be customised with colour and company logos to help you get started on your journey.

If you want to help save our seas, then follow this link

You can also calculate your carbon footprint by taking this questionnaire.

10 myths about climate change

Resources used WWF, National Geographic, IUCN.

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