Marine life is currently under attack from all sides by plastic. From plastic in the form of large plastic bags and 2-liter soda bottles to tiny microplastics, our oceans are absolutely inundated with the stuff. It’s turning up on shorelines, in the stomachs of ocean life, and as giant patches thousands of miles removed from civilization.
The relentless and ever-growing plastic problem our marine ecosystems face is massive. An estimated 8.8 million tons of plastics make their way into our oceans worldwide every single year. And while this sad fact is partially due to a growing population without a comparable and effective waste disposal system to match, marine plastic pollution is also the result of hundreds of little choices we all make every day at the individual level.
With 80 percent of marine plastics originally being sourced from land, it stands to reason that we carry much of the weight in reducing the amount of plastics that reach our oceans. Let’s discuss a few simple ways we can drastically cut our contribution of plastic pollution to our oceans and be superheroes to whales and fish everywhere!
1. Hydrate Responsibly
Staying hydrated is super important but you can certainly do it without bottled water. Relying on plastic to get your H2O on is proving to be really rough on the environment – Americans use an estimated 50 billion plastic water bottles a year. Sadly, only 23 percent of these actually end up recycled. The rest may end up in a landfill or even lost at sea. Switching out plastic for a reusable water bottle or cup is a much better choice for our oceans.
2. Mind Your Coffee Habit
Your daily coffee (or tea) fix might be contributing to plastic pollution if you’re not careful. Every to-go cup of the hot stuff you buy at the gas station or local café most likely comes topped with a plastic lid and maybe even a plastic drink stirrer thrown in the mix. If you buy a cup of coffee every weekday, that’s hundreds of plastic lids and stirrers wasted every year! In fact, 138 billion plastic stirrers (and straws) are tossed out in America on an annual basis. Want to kick this plastic habit without losing your caffeine fix? Invest in a reusable thermos or mug and stir your cream and sugar with silverware.
3. Avoid Plastic Pop
Like hot beverages you consume outside the home, cold drinks you’re served in a portable cup may also carry unwanted plastic. A soda or iced tea from a fast food joint is often accompanied by a plastic lid and straw, and maybe even housed in a plastic cup. Maybe you’re eating somewhere you can use a reusable cup, or you can ask for the cup minus the lid and straw. Need proof this change will make a difference? Check out how painful a single plastic drinking straw was for a sea turtle earlier this year.