World Environment Day: Beat Plastic Pollution, if you can’t reuse it, refuse it

Throughout 2018 our marine biologists here at Love The Oceans will be doing blog posts on topics of Named Days. To keep up to date, follow this blog, also found under the ‘News’ tab on our website. Without further ado, in celebration of World Environment Day 2018, I introduce our thirteenth blog in this marine series:

World Environment Day: Beat Plastic Pollution, if you can’t reuse it, refuse it

5thof June 2018 is World Environment Day, a day used annually to raise awareness of the plight of our environment. This year, the theme for World Environment Day is Beat Plastic Pollution: If you can’t reuse it, refuse it.

It’s no secret that single use plastic is one of the biggest environmental problems our world faces. Although it’s not the only one, it’s one of the most evident from day to day life. You spot discarded food wrappers and water bottles from the beaches to the streets and, as many of you know, in our oceans too.

Plastic-Ocean-Infographic
Source: Ocean Conservancy

It’s estimated that by 2050 there’ll be more plastic in our oceans (by weight) than fish, which is quite a scary thought considering 30 countries depend on fish as a primary protein source. In some areas of the ocean there’s more than 60x as much plastic as phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are tiny plants living in the water column that photosynthesise and produce oxygen. They produce the oxygen for around 1 in 5 breaths we breath – 60x as much plastic as these important animals? That’s terrifying!

This is all very doom and gloom. Is it too late? Who knows. Different types of plastic break up at different rates and we don’t actually know how much is out there. It’s important to note that plastic doesn’t break down, it breaks up– it never fully disappears even down to the molecular level. There’s fantastic campaigns like Nix the Six by 5 Gyres that help raise awareness of the problem of single use plastics. The number that is in the middle of the arrows on the bottom of your plastic bottle? That tells you the type of plastic it is. The 6 in the middle is where Nix the Six comes in. 6 is polystyrene, a product made from styrene and benzene, two petroleum based products. Not only is styrene now classed as probably carcinogenic (cancer causing) for humans by the International Agency For Research on Cancer (IARC) but polystyrene manufacturing has been ranked as the fifth worst industry in the world for hazardous waste creation. Polystyrene is difficult to recycle and even banned from some recycling plants because of contamination programs. Polystyrene is one of the most common forms of plastic pollution in the environment.

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Nix The Six: 5Gyres Campaign

 

Love The Oceans is based in Guinjata Bay, Mozambique. Whilst we pride ourselves on living in a pristine and awe-inspiring bay, we are not immune to the global problem of plastic pollution. Many remote places around the world have international trash washing up on their shores, and unfortunately many of these places are developing nations. Mozambique, for example, is situated on the edge of the Indian Ocean Garbage Patch. There are 5 large garbage patches in the world’s oceans and the Indian Ocean Garbage Patch is the 3rd largest at over 5 million km2. The patch is essentially a massive gyre of litter suspended in the water column and consists of an array of different waste: discarded fishing gear, plastics, chemical sludge and other debris. Whilst a lot of this trash is believed to come from developing nations, we (the UK) actually export a lot of our waste to these nations which then ends up in the ocean so a lot of it actually comes down to us in the UK changing our habits.

If trash goes into the water in Indonesia, it’ll take around 6 years to do a full circle in the ocean currents to get back to the starting point, and that’s if it doesn’t get stuck in the middle of the ocean where it could remain…indefinitely. Scary, right? Right.

We don’t know if we’re past the tipping point with plastic pollution as it’s really difficult to know just how much is in the environment at the moment. However, let’s curb our plastic addiction now and work towards a cleaner future! We have lots of blogs on reducingreusing and recycling your waste and how to live more sustainably, feel free to have a read. There’s also some pretty cool technology out there being designed to clean up the environment. After all, this is something that is much needed and our governments should really be investing more in.

Making smart choices when shopping is also important – make sure you source your clothes and food from shops that invest in green technology, speak openly about their environmental policies and actively reduce waste where they can. That’s why for the entire of June 2018 we’ve teamed up with Deakin and Blue, an awesome environmentally friendly swimsuit company. Deakin and Blue have committed to only working with environmentally and socially responsible suppliers and all their costumes are made of 100% recycled and regenerated consumer waste products, like discarded fishing nets – something very close to our hearts. They also manufacture their swimwear in a small London factory and produce in small production runs to minimise unwanted stock. In June 2018 to celebrate World Oceans Day, Love The Oceans has committed to removing 2kg of waste from the beaches and oceans for every Deakin and Blue swim suit bought so you can treat yourselves to a new cossie and know you’re saving marine life at the same time!

Get your Deakin and Blue Costume here and Happy World Environment Day!

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