7 Ways to Protect the Ocean – No Matter Where You Live – How To Save The Ocean From Pollution
By Pawnee Simons
What is in the ocean? It is a simple question; four-year-olds can answer it as well as most adults. But this little simple question no longer has a simple answer.
Why is that question complicated? Because as a high consumer, throw away culture we are filling our oceans with crap. More specifically plastic crap. And the problems with plastic never seem to end. Just like plastic never seems to break down.
One main way it affects marine life is they eat it thinking it is food. Imagine, you bite into that cake and it’s not cake but styrofoam. What might that do to your system if you continued to eat it?
You are not made to digest plastic and neither is a turtle or a fish or a bird. And if you think that doesn’t affect you, think again. A study by marine scientists from the National University of Ireland found that 73% of fish in the Northwest Atlantic have plastic in their body. Another study from the University of Exeter in Australia found microplastics in 100% of the five types of seafood they sampled. So, if you eat fish, guess what else you are eating.
Feel like your problem now? Becoming aware of the problem is a great first step, but it is only the first step. The next steps are the most important. Steps to help solve the problem.
But what are those steps and how can we help even when we are far away from the oceans? Here are seven simple ways to get started.
1. Become Aware and Informed About How Much Plastic Is Used Every Day
First, educate yourself. Start to pay attention to the plastic around you. It is super easy to turn a blind eye on what we are consuming and the plastic it creates.
So, take a moment to look around. Wherever you are you can see our “throw-away culture” at work.
- Next time you are in the store look around and notice how many single-use plastic products are there.
- When putting away groceries notice how much plastic is used for packaging.
- How long does it take to fill up your recycle bin? Do you have a recycling bin?
There is no need to beat yourself up. This is a problem we are all contributing to, and once we are aware of it then we are in a position to do something about it.
Once you are aware of the problem pick one small change to make. When that becomes a habit pick one more. Repeat.
2. Give up Disposable Plastic Straws
I know, I thought it was ridiculous when California had their big to-do and passed their plastic straw ban. I mean, I thought there were much bigger problems than straws. Right?! Well yes, but all the big problems start small.
To start off, straws are used so much. And they can’t be recycled. Think for a moment how many plastic straws have you used in the past month. Now think about how many straws that would be.
Say you use one straw a day, that’s 31 straws a month. Now imagine if all the houses in your neighborhood all used just one straw a day. Something like 100 houses, with an average of four people per house. Only using one straw a day is 4 x 100 x 31 = 12,400 straws a month or 148,800 straw per year. Just from your neighborhood. Yikes!
Why start with straws?
- We have to start somewhere
- It doesn’t get any easier than giving up straws.
- For most of us, straws are a preference, not a need.
Buy a metal or bamboo straw for use at home. Carry it with you or drink from the cup when at a restaurant.
3. Rethink Your Beverage Containers: Reusable Instead of Disposable
Are you a soda addict? Avid coffee drinker? Smoothie fiend? Bottled water snob? Hey, no judgment. But here’s something fizzy to think on. What kind of consumer are you?
If you drink from bottles or disposable cups, how many in a day? Week? Month? Year? Like soda from the bottle? Need two just to get through the day? That is 10 bottles a week or 40 bottles a month. That’s if you only work weekdays. If your coworkers have similar habits, even in your small office of 15, that is 600 plastic bottles a month!
Think about that for just a moment and then consider alternatives.
Including, but not limited to:
- Grab a fountain drink and reuse the cup on your next trip to the convenience store.
- Take your own coffee mug to the coffee shop or brew your own.
- Buy a filter and a fun refillable bottle instead of bottled water.
Again, this may seem small. Yet plastic bottles are one of the top types of litter found on beaches across the world. And soft drink companies are two of the top three commonly found brands stuck to these bottles.
Also, plastic-lined coffee cups and lids, along with disposable cups are reported among the most dangerous plastic contaminates by the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
We all have to drink something. Think about how that drink is packaged and make the best choice possible. Remember, little things can make a huge difference.
4. Ditch Plastic Shopping Bags
Another reason is they travel so easily. That means that you don’t have to be super close to the ocean for your plastic bag to end up there.
Ever watched a bag blowing in the wind? It doesn’t take much to carry it far. And we all know there is no controlling the wind or weather.
Because they can travel so easily, they often end up where we don’t want them to be. Weighed down in a body of water. Then eaten by some unsuspecting animal. Sea turtles are one example.
It is true that it is not always convenient to take your own bags. And with the current COVID-19 situation, we are not always allowed to use reusable bags.
Why are we still fighting about plastic bags?
For starters, there are so many of them. Let’s be honest, you have dozens of them stashed away somewhere right now, don’t you? I know I do.
But that doesn’t mean we should give up on them. Here are a few ideas to help now and when this current pandemic ends:
- Buying just a few items? Skip the bag.
- Collect bags and return them to the store for recycling.
- Use the self checkout and your own bags.
- Put your items back in the cart without a bag. Then bag them in the car.
- Get bags that fold super small and keep them in your car or purse.
5. Support Brands Making a Difference
There are lots of companies out there trying to make changes. Spending thousands to come up with creative solutions that reduce the plastic they produce.
Companies ranging from breweries to toilet paper factories. All doing their part to make change.
They are doing the hard thinking and work. But they need your support. Buy from companies that are making changes and an effort to be responsible.
Having an opinion is great. Sharing is also great. But one of the clearest ways we can make ourselves heard is how we spend our money.
If more people financially support companies that are making changes, then more companies will start to make changes. Let your money speak for you.
Need a place to start, our post on “10 Ocean-friendly Brands you have to Check Out” will point you in the right direction.
6. Donate to Ocean Blue Project
There are so many little things we can do to help improve the health of our oceans. To prevent further damage via plastic pollution.
But what about the plastic already in the ocean wreaking havoc? What can we do about that?
We can volunteer our time if we live close to a shoreline. Manpower is always needed.
But please don’t feel left out if that isn’t you.
We know so many care about the ocean cleanup but circumstances simply do not permit them to help in person. No worries, you can still help. In a big way.
To date, Ocean Blue Project has collected 181,273 pounds of microplastics and debris from the oceans. We remove one pound of plastic for every dollar donated.
Get involved in whatever way is possible for you.
You can still make a huge difference no matter where you live. It doesn’t matter if the beach is just down the road or thousands of miles away.
7. Believe in the Power of Small Actions
The plastic problem may seem daunting, but together we can make a lasting impact. Don’t fall for the lie that “one person can’t change the world”.
Great change often starts small, with one person, and grows into a movement. If you make small changes, they can snowball into your friends and family making small changes. Then to their friends and family. Get the picture?
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
So start small, start where you are. Become informed and aware. Let that carry you to make small and simple changes for a better world.
- Become aware of the problem.
- Give up straws.
- Rethink your beverage containers.
- Ditch plastic shopping bags.
- Support brands that make a difference.
- Donate to Ocean Blue Project to help with cleanup efforts.
- Believe in the power of small actions.
If we all do a little it will add up to a heck of a lot. Start small. Start today. Read more about Ocean Facts.
Author Bio: Pawnee Simons is a freelance copywriter, living in Utah, who wants to save the world so she can see it all.