A 1,110-pound whale was washed up, some time ago, on a beach in the Philippines with 88 pounds of plastic inside its body. A few weeks later, a pregnant sperm whale was found dead off the coast of Sardinia, Italy, with nearly 50 pounds of plastic crowding two-thirds of its stomach.
What can we do to stop the billions of pounds of plastics being dumped in oceans each year? Here’s some background and five ways we can take action.
How does plastic get into the ocean in the first place?
Twenty percent of ocean plastic comes from ships and offshore platforms. The rest is a mix of garbage dumping – nearly 8 million metric tons of plastics are dumped into the ocean every year – as well as litter blown into the sea.
Because plastic is not biodegradable, it breaks down instead into tiny particles called micro plastics that fish can eat.
Here are five things we can do to help slow and stop the ocean plastic pollution problem:
1-. Urge your elected officials at the local, state, and federal level to support a ban or tax on disposable, single-use plastic.
2-. Put public pressure on corporations. Top 10 brands contributing to Plastic Pollution are: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Danone, Mondelez International, Procter & Cable, Unilever, Perfetti van Meller, Mars Incorporated, Colgate-Palmolive (These 10 companies are flooding the planet with throwaway plastic).
Consumer pressure on corporate polluters and brands that encourage disposable plastic works can do a lot. A successfully pressure, pushed Starbucks to create a 100% recyclable cup. Take action, like signing petitions, making calls and using social media to pressure corporations to stop the plastic pollution problem.
3-. Make the climate connection. Plastic is derived from chemicals in fossil fuels, which makes it a source of climate emissions and pollution. The fossil fuel industry depends on plastic production for a chunk of its climate-destroying revenue. In fact, the fossil fuel industry is set to triple plastic exports by 2030. The more we understand where plastics come from – and why they are so cheap and readily available – the better we can fight back.
4-. Attend town halls and debates. In the US, for instance, with the 2020 election season heating up, people can attend town halls and debates to ask local candidates – maybe even presidential nominees – to release their plan for cleaning up the ocean plastic problem and tackling the climate crisis.
5-. Stop using single-use plastics. While much of the ocean plastic problem must be solved by governments and corporations making drastic changes to policies and regulations and how business is conducted, we can all do our part by changing our behavior and reducing our use of plastic water bottles, straws, bags, and other single-use plastics. Here are nine ways to cut down your use of plastics.
See also, The largest clean up in history