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What a waste

Today is World Oceans Day, an annual event celebrating our oceans and raising awareness of their important role in our lives.

This year’s theme is Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet, focusing on taking action to prevent plastic pollution in our oceans. We know that plastic can cause distressing problems for both wildlife and water quality – did you know one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans (Ecowatch, 2014)! As plastic biodegrades into even smaller particles (Trash Travels estimate it can take 20 years for plastic bags to decompose and up to 450 years for plastic bottles) it attracts toxins and can even enter the food chain. Plastic can also be harmful to humans – plastic chemicals, such as BPA, can be absorbed by the body, and compounds in plastic have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.

Fortunately however, there are some simple things all of us can do to help reduce plastic waste in our oceans, why not try one of these ideas for World Oceans Day?

• With the introduction of the 5p charge for plastic bags we hope that in the UK their number will drop dramatically, however, Plastic Oceans estimate that around 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide every year, with more than one million bags used every minute!

What about that facewash? Watch out for cosmetics and personal hygiene products, such as face wash, which contain microbeads (tiny pieces of plastic). The North Sea Foundation and the Plastic Soup Foundation have developed a new smartphone App which enables you to scan a products’ barcode to see if it contacts microbeads.

Who’d have thought it? Synthetic fabrics, such as fleece, can also produce microplastics. A study by the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management found that an average of 1.7g of microfibers can be shed each wash, these fibres are so small that they are often not captured by typical laundry filters, with 40% managing to reach local waterways. To help, simply wash synthetic items less often!

• Reuse plastic items at home and take a pass on disposable bottles and wrappers.

What about a spot of beachcombing? Sign up for a beach clean-up! The Marine Conservation Society run numerous beach clears across the UK.

 

Beach litter 2

(Photo credit: Kevin Krejci)

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