It's almost impossible to enjoy a beach day or simply go for a walk outside without seeing the impact of plastic and waste pollution. With the average American producing 4.5 pounds of trash per day, its no wonder our streets and oceans have become filled with plastic bags, straws, utensils, food packaging, and other disposable trash.
An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash - most of it plastic - is dumped in the world's ocean every year. Some debris ends up on our beachs, washed up in waves or tides, some sink, some are eaten by marine animals that mistake it for food, and some accumulate in piles in the ocean. In fact, there's a huge 'island' of trash floating around the Northern area of the Pacific Ocean right now. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch floating plastic garbage island is the victim of marine debris buildup, and boat runoff. This island is twice the size of the state of Texas and carries thousands of pounds of waste. "If we keep producing (and failing to properly dispose of) plastics at predicted rates, plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish pound by pound in 2050." The plastic pollution is a reminder that these problems will continue to affect our ecosystems and our health issues unless we take action with solutions.
So what can we do? Where do we start?
We like to think that significant action starts with significant education. Take it one step at a time and try to learn something new every day. Heck, you've already started if you read this far! Once you're educated about an issue, you can understand how you want to and should be taking action.
That action might include:
1. Refusing and Reducing disposable products.
This includes most plastic straws, cups, utensils, containers, bags, etc. The amount of single use products easily adds up and can pollute our beaches, oceans, and landfills.
2. Eating less meat and fish.
A large portion of marine debris comes from boat runoff from large fishing boats. If we reduce he demand for fish, we can reduce the amount of fishing boats that are polluting our oceans.
3. Participating in a beach clean up.
You can do this every time you go to the beach! Or even find a local community beach clean up to join. Beach clean ups are a great way to experience and gain perspective about the trash that accumulates and can also set an example for other beach-goers to pick up trash!
Trashy Tuesday is another great way to start! Take a walk around the block, or along the beach and pick up trash as you go. Keep your community clean and healthy for generations to come!