5 Big Changes to Turn the Tide on Ocean Plastic Pollution
Our oceans are beautiful places and we have been lucky to experience them at their best on dives and snorkelling trips, finding Nemo in Phuket and scuba diving crystal clear waters thriving with beautiful marine life and coral in Gili T.
Unfortunately we can not pretend all our oceans are still like this, as they should be. It has been estimated (at our current rate) there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 unless we do something drastic to change this.
5 Big Changes to Reduce Ocean Plastic Pollution
1. Take fish off the menu or work on reducing consumption - as highlighted by Sea Shepherd and the recently released Seaspiracy documentary fishing equipment is the single largest culprit of plastic pollution in the Ocean. Fishing nets make up approximately 46% of ocean plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2019 figure).
2. Bottle Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)
As our current system goes, consumers buy a bottle and once the contents is gone they either recycle it, send it to landfill or in too many cases litter their local environment. With a DRS in place the consumer would effectively be paying for the drink and paying a deposit on the bottle which they then get back when they return the empty bottle to a collection point i.e. the retailer/ supermarket.
This idea encourages people to hold onto their bottles rather than litter and has shown results in countries/ states around the world where it is already implemented such as South Australia (DRS in place) where bottles make up only 2.9% of the total of all litter collected compared to Western Australia where they don’t have a DRS scheme drinks containers make up 13% of total litter.
In Norway their DRS scheme has helped them capture 97% of plastic bottles to be recycled so the effects are proven to work and it should seem a no brainier if we are to seriously reduce litter from one of the biggest culprits of consumer based single use plastic pollution, the drink container.
Surfers Against Sewage have advocated for this for year and in 2018 the UK Government responded to a petition to introduce a DRS to help tackle the plastic pollution crises we are facing, however, they have since delayed these plans until 2024.
To cast your vote for a deposit return scheme now not later head to sas.org.uk/depositreturnscheme to email your local MP (UK only).
3. Litter pick the oceans
Not a small task by any means! But to reverse the damage we not only need to stop polluting the oceans and beaches but to undo as much of the damage as we possibly can.
However big or small we can all make a difference here whether it’s joining in with a local community litter pick or just getting out there and doing a #2minutebeachclean when we’re out and about.
On a larger scale some very positive work has been done such as that by 4ocean who use some of their profits generated to remove trash from the ocean on a large scale and have removed over 7million pounds of trash already.
4. Reduce micro plastic consumption
Over 30% of plastic pollution found in the ocean comes from micro plastics. We were all very aware of one form of this after the plastic beads in shower gel were banned for entering our waterways and seeping into our rivers and oceans. Another way they get into our waterways is via our laundry as whenever we wash synthetic clothing items thousands of microfibres shed and wash into the waterways in the same way as the plastic beads would before.
To stop this from happening we can buy and wear natural fabrics over synthetic where possible and if we can’t avoid them altogether we can use a Guppyfriend wash bag which is designed to catch these microfibres and stop them shedding into the waterways.
5. Educate and inspire change in future generations
Everyone can have their own way of doing this and to try and end on a positive note I would say the message is getting out there. I have friends tell me their kids are coming home from school and educating them on the plastic pollution crises and telling them what they can do about it at home. In areas of the world where plastic pollution has got particularly bad, locals and students are now being educated on ways to live better and how to consume without creating waste or pollution + better waste management systems are starting to be introduced.
There’s still a lot of work to be done here and we can all do our little bit to help the planet and to help push things in the right direction.