April Fools! Ok, so there isn’t a restaurant serving ocean plastic as their trendy new dish, but its not far off from where we are as a planet when it comes to our plastic consumption and pollution.
Plastic… it’s everywhere. From the bags at the grocery store and packaging on our food, to microbeads in beauty scrubs and the toys our kids play with, we are living in a plastic world. Although it’s made things convenient in keeping items sanitized and portable, plastic is doing a number on our environment because is does not biodegrade.
“Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form” reads the Surfrider Foundation website. In response to the ocean “turning into plastic soup”, the non profit is asking that people “rise above plastics” with a new grassroots movement to help address the global issue locally with plastic reduction in your own community.
“On Midway Atoll, a remote cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent, the detritus of our mass consumption surfaces in an astonishing place: inside the stomachs of thousands of dead baby albatrosses. The nesting chicks are fed lethal quantities of plastic by their parents, who mistake the floating trash for food as they forage over the vast polluted Pacific Ocean.” (Chris Jordan Midway Photo Series)
So you realize that you may not be dumping plastic bottles and bags straight into the ocean. Most plastic pollution starts out on land via littering, and makes its way into the marine environment through storm drain systems or directly to creeks, stream and rivers leading to the ocean. Like marine birds, fish can also digest and absorb this synthetic material (plastic debris) into their tissue which means we are probably eating plastic in some capacity as it is- putting “you are what you eat” in a new perspective.
Here are Ten Ways to Rise Above Plastics (offered by the Surfrider Foundation) to reduce your own plastic footprint and keep plastics out of the ocean:
- Choose to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water. Cloth bags and metal or glass reusable bottles are available locally at great prices.
- Refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other ‘disposable’ plastics. Carry reusable utensils in your purse, backpack or car to use at bbq’s, potlucks or take-out restaurants.
- Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag/box that includes a thermos.
- Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants that let you use them. A great way to reduce lids, plastic cups and/or plastic-lined cups.
- Go digital! No need for plastic cds, dvds and jewel cases when you can buy your music and videos online.
- Seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on.
- Recycle. If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics. Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates.
- Volunteer at a beach cleanup. Surfrider Foundation Chapters often hold cleanups monthly or more frequently.
- Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills.
- Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to Rise Above Plastics!