The way we live today shapes the future of tomorrow. We are making an impact on our planet and especially our oceans with many of our daily choices. The question is, are we leaving footprints for a better tomorrow? Our ocean’s delicate eco-system and marine wildlife are depending on us to find better solutions for the way we live and the history we leave behind.
Plastic is considered to be the most detrimental man-made item in the ocean. Around the world, over 500,000,000 straws are used daily and over one million plastic bags are used every single minute! Because of this single-use plastic, over 1,000,000 seabirds fall victim to plastic consumption each year. Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces per square mile! No wonder our oceans are filling up with waste.
The solution rests with us, as individuals, and being able to identify our personal impact on the world by being aware of the plastic choices we make daily. Some sources say it can take up to 1,000 years for one plastic bag to break down and paper bags don’t do much better. You might be wondering why plastic bags are not commonly recycled. The reason: the cost to recycle plastic bags often outweighs their value, so most recycling facilities will not take them. However, in some communities plastic bags are collected for responsible disposal, so check sites like www.plasticfilmrecycling.org to find recycling options near you.
Society is becoming much more engaged with ocean sustainability and it is becoming more of the “norm” to have reusable tote bags rather than plastic bags, but what about those 500 billion straws used every day? How do we cut back on the number of plastic straws ending up in our landfills and oceans? The answer is, we begin with education and reusability. Let’s face it: straws are so common in our society, we almost don’t notice how often we use them for drinks on the go. Once people learn of the serious plastic problem, they often decide to make positive changes to lessen their personal impact. Purchasing reusable straws can be affordable and have positive long-lasting effects to our oceans. By carrying these straws in our vehicles and purses, we can eliminate some of the plastic waste we are personally producing. And if you forget your straw, simply go without. Each time you refuse a straw, you are making a difference.
Each one of us is only one person and alone, we cannot do everything, but we can certainly do something. The more knowledge people have, the better they tend to do. So think of ways you can spread the message about cutting back on plastic use. It could be as simple as talking to your friends or giving reusable straws and tote bags as gifts. Share informative science-based stories about the environment on social media. You might even consider writing an editorial for local publications or websites.
Each act of conscious kindness towards our oceans, no matter how small, has lasting effects. It’s up to us to show respect for our environment and turn words into real action. Let’s be known as the generation that took the first steps to a better tomorrow.