World Oceans Day
Friday, June 8th is World Oceans Day. A day that people all over the world come together to celebrate and raise awareness for one of the earth’s greatest resources. The goal for this year is focused on plastic pollution, ocean health and raising awareness about ways we can reduce the use of and the impact plastics have on our oceans.
Despite covering 70% of earth’s surface, most people’s interaction with the ocean is either going to the beach or maybe the occasional boat trip. However, our connection goes much deeper than that, even if you don’t live near the ocean. Maybe most critical is the air we breathe. The rainforest, as many people know, is responsible for producing some of the oxygen we breathe, but only about 28%. 70% of the oxygen we breathe is generated by our oceans through the plants (phytoplankton, kelp, and algal plankton) that live in it. The ocean also provides us with food, regulates earth’s climate and temperature and, yes, provides us with fun, entertainment and inspiration.
The oceans provide a substantial amount to us, but World Oceans Day is about us figuring out ways to give back. This year’s focus on plastic pollution offers some simple things we can all do to make a change to help our environment and our oceans.
The shocking truth is just how much plastic is in our oceans. There is an estimated 86 tons of plastic in oceans around the world.
Plastic is not biodegradable and gets broken down into smaller and smaller pieces known as microplastics. These microplastics and other larger floating plastic debris have a catastrophic effect on marine life through the ingestion, entanglement, and suffocation by plastics.
So what can you and I do to help this problem? It may seem insurmountable, but by making some small changes in our daily routine we can make a difference.
Eliminate single-use plastics whenever possible
Whenever possible do not use or buy beverages in plastic containers. I stopped buying water in plastics bottles and switch to a reusable container for water. I did the same for coffee. I have a thermos that I use for hot and ice coffee when I buy it at a coffee shop to avoid the plastic lids.
Say no to straws
Drinks at restaurant and bars almost always come with straws. Some establishments have begun making the switch to paper straws, but for the majority of places that haven’t adopted that policy, ask your waiter or bartender to hold the straw.
Use paper or reusable shopping bags at the market
Reusable shopping bags just make it easier….you can carry more and they won’t break as easy. It’s a simple switch, but the hardest part is just remembering to bring them to the store. Do your best to make it a habit and you will never want to use a plastic bag again. Some towns like Newport, RI where I live, have even banned plastic bags.
Pick up more than you bring in
When we make it to the beach this summer take a few minutes before you leave and pick up any trash that might be in your area. The bigger the area the better, but you would be surprised what 10 minutes of looking around will turn up. And if everyone starts doing it, we will have some pristine beaches. Start the trend, if people seeing you doing it it will catch on.
http://www.worldoceansday.org/ has great resources for taking part in an event or even helping set up your own event along with great educational resources so you can learn more about ways we can clean, protect, and improve our oceans.