It’s a subject that has saturated the international press over recent months and, when you stop and think, you wonder why it’s taken so long to discuss.
Yes, you’ve guessed, I’m talking about plastic!
I’ll be honest, I was pretty ignorant to the whole issue until I saw that Blue Planet II episode. I hadn’t realised that the worlds beautiful marine life was suffering so much because of our everyday use of plastics. Since the 1950’s, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced. That’s the weight of one billion elephants. I am shocked to learn that only 9% of that has been recycled.
It is believed that 100 million marine animals are killed each year because of plastic debris. Are you ok with this?
Floating plastics are essentially toxic pills and the amount of destruction they can cause is so vast, we may never be able to stop it. Marine life often mistake plastic for food, and ingesting it is about as good for them as it would be for a human. Most mammals cannot digest plastic, so it lives in their gut. This can restrict the digestion of actual food, and lead to a very slow and painful death. That’s not the end of it, either. A plastic bag, for example, can take up to a thousand years to decay. If an animal dies and it has ingested plastic, and the animal decays, the plastic is then free to roam the seas once again, putting the lives of other marine life at risk.
Plastics don’t have to be ingested to cause harm. It’s not uncommon to hear of turtles being caught up in fishing wire. Cutting in to their shells and bodies, causing irreparable injuries. Then there are sea birds, found with their beaks wedged in various little plastic parts, leaving them unable to open their mouths. Fish finding their way into the finger of a plastic glove and unable to get back out again.
Our Marine Conservation projects around the globe are fighting hard to combat the damage being done to marine life. Firstly, and most importantly, our volunteers see first-hand what damage is being done to our oceans. They use this experience to help raise awareness in the local community, and with their friends and families back home. They work hard to restore what they can and create a safe environment for the residents of the seas. Whether this be beneath the surface or taking part in a beach clean, every single volunteer worker is important to the mission and what the world hope to achieve in eradicating plastics from our oceans.
You can find out more about our Marine Conservation Projects here.
I’ve become a lot more conscious since researching the damage being done to our beautiful world and thinking carefully about my use of plastic, it’s staggering what I use on a daily basis. I can tell you, plastic is almost impossible to get away from. My pen, plastic. The keys on my keyboard, plastic. My car door handle, plastic. My bank card, plastic. Dental floss, plastic. Any letter I receive has plastic in the envelope, any food I buy is packaged in plastic (or has some sort of plastic in the packaging), there is plastic in the facial wipes I use, even money is made of plastic nowadays! Can I really expect to find it all in the ocean one day?
This subject has raised a lot of questions in my mind, and I have begun my plastic free journey, even though I know it will be a long one. I’ve got the basics down i.e. re-usable water bottle and coffee cups, re-usable straws, flannel instead of face wipes, taking my own bags to the supermarket etc. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. It’s a shame that the damage has been done, but we can reverse it.
Let’s make the conversation a little bit louder!
If you’ve got any hints and tips on how to become plastic free, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post the best ones on our Facebook Page!
“We have to act. We have to act now to try and clear up the appalling damage we have made to the ocean, and that is going to require positive action” – Sir David Attenborough.