Today is World Oceans Day a day of global celebration of our oceans and a day to reflect on what we can do to help reduce our pollution into this vulnerable environment.
The theme this year is ‘Our Oceans, Our Future’ and the focus is on encouraging solutions to the problem of plastic pollution and preventing marine litter.
Many of us don’t realise how much of a vital and broad role the ocean plays in our lives: we use it as a food source, for sport and activities, for research and medicine, as a means of transport, not to mention its role as a unique home to millions of amazing marine creatures. Without it we would be lost, and the terrible truth is that we are destroying it with our careless behaviour.
Over 10 million tonnes of rubbish ends up in oceans every year and 90% of all floating rubbish is plastic. 100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are just the ones that have been found.
It’s our duty to protect and preserve the ocean for future generations and a few small changes to our bad habits is all it takes. So we’ve come up with a list of things you can do to help and initiatives you should support to help keep our oceans clean, healthy and plastic free.
Here’s some easy ways you can contribute to a cleaner, better ocean:
1. Reduce Reuse and Recycle
This is not just something you learn to rhyme off in primary school this is something we should be practicing everyday. About half of the plastic we use are single use and of the plastic the world produces only about 5-10% is recovered. Some is re-purposed but most ends up in landfills or worse out to sea. We can help by using cutting down on the amount of plastic we use.
Try to avoid single use plastics where possible, bring your own plastic bag, ditch plastic straws and buy a re-usable flask for your coffee and water. These are just some small everyday changes that can make a huge difference.
2. Beat the Bead
Microbeads are a tiny menace that wreak havoc on marine life. They are tiny little plastic beads found in facial scrubs and toiletries that get washed into the sea and are consumed about marine life. The chain of pollution doesn’t stop there, the toxic particles end up on our plate when we eat seafood. They are bad for fish and bad for us so we should try to stamp them out.
Ireland is set to join other countries that have begun ban the bead. In the meantime you can do your part by avoiding products that contain microbeads. Download this handy app to make sure your products are bead free.
3. Stop Balloon Releases
Think sending off hundreds of balloons soaring into the sky is a great way to make a celebration? Think again! The old adage rings true ‘what goes up must come down’. The balloons released inevitably have to go somewhere and all too often that somewhere is in the stomach of wildlife.
No matter how ‘biodegradable’ they claim balloons end up in the sea where marine creatures mistake them for food. The strings can be dangerous too and birds can often get caught or strangled in them.
If an organisation in your area is planning a release encourage them to think again!
4. Two Minute Beach Clean
This is the easiest way we can all help! If we all chipped in and give just two minutes to remove any rubbish when we visit our beaches it would make a world of difference. Clean beaches benefits everyone, it’s safer, it looks better and that rubbish that would have ended in the oceans is properly disposed of. Win win for everyone!
So next time you’re out on the coast do a #2minutebeachclean to keep our beaches beautiful.
5. Think Before you Flush
Think Before You Flush is one of Clean Coast’s public awareness campaigns about the problem sanitary products and other items can cause on marine life and our water systems when they are flushed down the toilet.
Cotton wool, dental floss and sanitary products should be put in the bin not flushed away! Using a little bit of common sense and if necessary changing your bathroom habits can really make a difference.