Ocean Plastic Pollution
By Richard Arterbury
Have you ever thought about how much plastic is in the Ocean and where it all comes from? “Plastic products have grown through the roof over the years,” is the all too common saying. Today, we see how it has grown into the ocean over the last 70 years.
Now, the world is producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic annually. Half of what we produce is for single use products and more than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our ocean every year.
Plastic is cheap and versatile with properties that make it ideal for many applications. Plastic also melts and molds easily. Last but not least, plastic is a byproduct of oil and natural gas. Plastic is sold in the manufacturing and packaging industry which we all depend on for everyday use. How to save the ocean in 3 easy steps:
What is plastic used for?
Packaging is the largest area responsible for driving single use plastic and over 40% of total plastic usage demands. Most plastic products are discarded after being used for less than 15 minutes.
Plastic bags gross 500 billion in worldwide sales with over one million plastic bags used every minute. Read more about the Great Garbage Patch.
Beverage plastic single use bottles
Over 17 million barrels of oil are sold just to produce the plastic water bottles consumed in the United States alone. In 2014, over 100.7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the United States.
We use 6 times the amount of water that’s in each plastic bottle just to make the container. Over 16% of our litter comes from beverage containers, which are made of plastic. Meanwhile, bottle caps and plastic bottle labels are some of the most commonly found items at beach cleanups.
Our every day plastic pollution affects wildlife, human health, waterways and above all our one world Ocean. Keep in mind, the ocean is responsible for producing at least half of the world’s oxygen supply.
Plastic in The Ocean
Plastic in the Ocean Solutions
Ocean Plastic Pollution Offers Endless Opportunities
Plastic floats on water and travels in ocean currents that trap the plastic close to shore. Then, fragments land on beaches by the tons and when it’s overlooked the plastic continues to go in and out with tides.
The high tides take plastic back out to sea and much of this plastic becomes smaller over time, becoming so small we can’t even see the plastic.
If this plastic is overlooked, then it degrades on warm sunny beaches much faster than it does while floating in cooler water temperatures. For example, plastic is more likely to biodegrade on a warm sandy beach than in 54 degree water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.
Ocean Blue feels that volunteer beach cleanups are vital to healthy oceans. Beach Cleanups are reminders of nonpoint source pollution. The nonpoint source is the plastic being removed from beaches before it breaks down or degrades by the sun and becomes what we now call micro plastic pollution. Read More:
Plastic is made from the byproduct of oil and should not be placed in a landfill. Instead, we can recycle it back into products that we are all dependent upon and which is in most everything we buy.
The solution is certainly to use less plastic and to find alternative solutions to lower the need for plastic. The ocean will smile when we stop using plastic. Until then, it is vital to collect as much as possible that the ocean spits out on our beaches. We can create jobs and collect tons of this plastic pollution.
Ocean Blue cleaned up one Oregon beach back in 2012 and since then we have never slowed down. Our goal is to see lower amounts of marine debris in our one world Ocean. Read more about why the ocean matters:
Plastic in the Ocean Solutions
- Place a small box in your car with reusable cups, plates, forks, etc.
- Keep a glass jug of drinking water in your car or boxed water instead of buying plastic water bottles.
- Avoid items at the store wrapped in plastic and often times I have to just say no.
- Bring your own shopping bags with something to place produce in.
- Buy from a bulk section.
- I often bake my own bread and make fresh corn tortillas at home to avoid pollution.
- Buy Bamboo Toothbrushes over plastic.
- Be a mindful consumer and when buying products think of the packaging used. If we can lower the plastic packaging then we can lower large amounts of plastic.
- Keep a coffee cup, bamboo ware, and metal straw with you at all times to make avoiding single use easy.
- Never tell others what to do, but often we can lead by example with easy ideas.
- Purchase gifts for friends that need a reusable cup or maybe a bamboo toothbrush.
- Happy Oceans and I hope to see you at a beach cleanup one day soon! Don’t have time? Make a donation to a local nonprofit doing something for our environment.