After reading our many blog posts about how awful we all are for mindlessly letting our trash find its way to the ocean and into the bellies of marine life, you might be wondering what in the world you can do to help stop ocean pollution. Well, you came to the right place! Of course, with the millions of tonnes of trash that is in the ocean, it might seem hopeless. Don’t give up! Nothing will ever get better if we don’t try to do our part. So, here are a few things you can do to help….
The first thing you can do is educate yourself on the plastic problem. Read news stories, old and new. Look up laws for the state you live in. Go to the beach and see the problem yourself. An important part of helping with any problem is knowing as much as you can about the problem. There are great websites and blogs that have an abundant amount of information that is extremely useful in knowing what’s going on and how to help.
Here are just a few:
Reduce and Reuse
After reading up on what plastic pollution is and why it is bad, the next step is to help by reducing your use of single-use plastics and plastic products in general. This seems like a hard task and I would suggest taking it one step at a time and challenging yourself to do the most that you can while still being responsible.
Simple things you can do to limit your plastic use:
- Try to use reusable items for eating and drinking (forks, knives, spoons, straws, etc.) so that you don’t have to use single-use plastic products such as plastic utensils, straws, to go containers, cups, and plastic bags
- Instead of getting plastic bags from the grocery bag, invest in some good reusable grocery bags (that are actually not very expensive)
- Buy a great glass or washable plastic water bottle or coffee mug that you can wash and reuse instead of buying plastic water bottles. I have an amazing RTIC water bottle that I carry around during school that I love!
- Stay away from facial products, toothpaste, or hand soap with the microbeads that are used for exfoliation. These beads are not biodegradable and wastewater treatment facilities cannot collect them
- Food storage! There is no need to pack food into plastic bags or saran wrap. Jars and glass containers are great for food storage and remember to try to avoid carry-out containers. I love to reuse my pickle jars or Talenti ice cream pints for different kinds of food storage!
Another great way to help with ocean pollution is to go out and clean up areas around bodies of water. Go to the beach or a lake or river near you and start picking up trash. It is important for us to pick it up and clean up instead of just complaining that there is a problem. You can also look up when people are having an organized beach cleanup or something similar. Here are a few sites that could help you find some:
Support Organizations Addressing Ocean Pollution
An important part of helping fix a major issue like ocean pollution is to spread the word. The world needs to know that they should be paying attention. When big brands or organizations bring attention to this problem, it is important that the public shows their support. Keep reading for examples of brands that are working to save the ocean.
Patagonia commissioned Ocean Wise’s Plastic Lab to investigate microfiber pollution in the ocean. Patagonia recognized that the only kind of pollution in the ocean that was getting attention was large, visible pieces of plastic such as water bottles. However, they wanted to bring more attention to the tiny pieces of microfiber that pollute our oceans more than we know. Since they began investigating microplastics in the ocean in 2014, their research has uncovered that 70% of all plastic particle in the ocean are fiber-shaped. Which means that they can be as narrow as human red blood cells. Patagonia, along with other leaders in their industry, is still working to find the sources of microfiber pollution and trying to find a solution. (https://www.patagonia.com/blog/2019/02/teaming-up-to-get-to-the-bottom-of-microfiber-pollution/)
TOMS has always been known for its One for One mission where they give a pair of shoes to a child in need when a pair of shoes is purchased. Now, TOMS has partnered with Oceana and has created a new collection of shoes centered around whales, “The whale collection consists of limited-edition vegan footwear inspired by recovering populations of gray and humpback whales and their migration routes”. TOMS and Oceana have partnered together before to help sea turtles where TOMS donated $5 from every sale of their sea turtle shoes to help Oceana. They pledged to donate a minimum of $50,ooo toward helping save marine life. (https://oceana.org/press-center/press-releases/oceana-and-toms-partner-help-save-whales)
Lastly, Herbal Essences and TerraCycle have partnered to create shampoo and conditioner bottles made out of 25% ocean plastic. Some of you might know that Herbal Essences is a hair care brand, but you might not know what TerraCycle is. TerraCycle is a private recycling business that specializes in innovative ways to recycle things that are hard to recycle. Both of these companies feel they have a role to drive awareness towards making better decisions for the environment. Herbal Essences has a goal to one day have 100 percent renewable and recycled materials in their products. The bottles made from ocean plastic are being sold as a limited edition product from March 2019 to June 2019. However, Herbal Essences is continuing their work with TerraCycle by creating a nationwide take-back program where they can ensure that every bottle that is sold from them is recycled and does not end up in the ocean. (https://www.packagingstrategies.com/articles/91056-herbal-essences-launches-recyclable-bottles-with-ocean-plastic)
It is amazing to see this kind of initiative from companies and there are plenty more companies who are doing something similar. I encourage you to look into brands and how they help ocean pollution or any other campaigns that you are interested in. Brands support these causes because they are interested in them or because their consumers want to see it. Let them know what you want to see!
You Can Do It!
I want to end this blog on a positive note because reading about ocean pollution and damage to our environment and to animal life can be a little overwhelming. This is not a helpless cause. We all need to stand up and tell the world that the ocean and the life within it is worth saving. Do your best to educate yourself and others on world issues and then do what you can, even if it doesn’t seem like a lot, to help fix the problem. We don’t have time to sit around and hope someone else comes up with a solution.