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What Exactly Can We Do About Waste in Our Oceans?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 | Comments (0)

(This article is the final part of a 3-article series that looks at the current and future state of recycling and waste management in Australia and the rest of the world.) 

Its no secret that the amount of trash in the worlds oceans has reached crisis levels. One only need look at the multiple "patches" of marine debrismostly composed of plasticfloating around in the Pacific Ocean.

According to scientists, up to 8 million tonnes of plastic make their way into the Earths oceans each year, contributing to an increasingly dire pollution problem. But it gets worsethe tonnage is predicted to increase tenfold within the next 10 years if nothing is done to change how we collect and manage our waste.

In addition, discarded plastics like fishing lines, drinking straws, and single-use plastic bags are responsible for killing thousands of marine turtles, seabirds, whales, and other marine life, who mistake the plastic debris for food. The plastic ends up clogging the digestive systems of these animals, causing them to literally choke or starve to death.

And because plastics are non-biodegradable, they can float around in the ocean for years before breaking down into toxic chemicals.

But what exactly can we do to fix the problem? Here are 5 actions you should consider.

1.     Vote Wisely 

The simplest thing anyone can do is to vote for public officials in Australia who support sound environmental practices, recognize the problem of climate change and pollution, and actually have solutions to share, no matter how small they may seem. Exercise your right to vote and continue to be involved after Election Day.

2.     Say No to Plastic

Plastic only really became a thing because it made life more convenient. Things like plastic bags, take-away containers, and lids make likes carrying items, eating food, and drinking beverages easier, but they are by no means necessary.

Nix plastic utensils and disposable containers by carrying your own food container (preferably made of glass, stainless steel, or silicone) and a wooden spork. Instead of asking for a single-use plastic bag for your groceries, bring a reusable shopping bag with you at all timesstuff one in your bag, it hardly takes up any space.

3.     Pick Up Trash at the Beach

Much of the waste that ends up in the ocean often begins as beach litter. If you live near the beach or visit one regularly, spending just half an hour to pick up and properly dispose of beach litter can go a long way towards reducing your personal impact on the marine environment. So, the next time you hit the beach, bring a trash bag with you. You can also volunteer for beach clean-ups to put your free time to good use.

4.     Support Plastic Bans

Aside from voting, voicing your support for government policies is another way to prompt your local government leaders to take action. Plastic bans in Australia, for example, only became possible thanks to the support of citizens and local stakeholders. By voicing your support for such policies in your community, you can show leaders that people in your city or state want these measures in place.

5.     Share and Spread the Word

Aside from staying informed on issues about plastic pollution in the worlds oceans, tell people around you about the problem and, more importantly, how they can help solve the problem. Real change only happens when everyone becomes a part of the solution. Try hosting a viewing party for a documentary about ocean pollution, like Garbage Island, or the ocean in general, like Disney

Although by no means exhaustive, these basic measures are something just about anyone can do with barely any effort. If anything, these actions simply require a recalibration of the way we think about our environment and a better appreciation of our impact on the world around us.

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