More than 14 BILLION pounds of plastic finds its way into our ocean and waterway environments every year. If we're going to #SEACHANGE, we desperately need to rethink plastic.
Here is a list of great ways to help fight the plastic problem.
1) Avoid bottled water
This is a super simple way to reduce your plastic waste today. Refillable bottles will not only benefit the environment, it'll also save you a ton of money.
2) Say no to plastic straws
This is the last straw.
Straws are among the top 10 most common marine debris. Americans alone use enough straws to fill up over 46'000 large school buses per year!
This is bad news for marine life such as sea birds and cetaceans, who often ingest plastics like straws.
3) Bring re-useable coffee cups to the coffee shop
You might think that those paper to-go cups aren't a major plastic problem, but the cups are often lined with a plastic resin for durability and convenience. Additionally, take out lids are often plastic as well.
An addiction to coffee can't be helped, but our addiction to plastic can!
4) Think Fresh
It's surprising how many of our groceries come in plastic packaging. Shopping for fresh products, like fresh fruits and vegetables, will reduce the plastic that comes home with your groceries. Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You save money and unnecessary packaging.
5) Reduce your dependance on single use plastics
Think disposable cutlery, disposable razors, single serve coffee pods... those items in our lives that we often only use once and discard. Cutting out single use plastics will drastically reduce our plastic waste in no time!
6) Wash your clothes less
Much of our clothing is made from synthetic fibres, aka: plastic. One would think that up-cycling plastic bottles into clothing is a great win for the environment! But this is not the case.
Recycled polyester, for example, uses PET as the raw material. Each time we wash clothing made from PET, thousands of tiny plastic microfibres are shed from the fabric and are washed away, ultimately ending up in oceans and waterways. In fact, microfibre pollution is now thought to be one of the biggest marine pollutants today.
We wash our clothing waaay more than we need to. Reducing the frequency of washing keeps our clothes in better condition, and reduces our impact on the environment.
7) Support bans
In 2016, California instituted a ban on single-use plastic bags in certain kinds of retail environments. Numerous other communities and countries have also taken action to ban the plastic shopping bag. Bans like this encourage citizens and businesses to be more mindful about the environmental implications of the choices we make. Change isn't always easy, but it can be for the greater good.
8) Reuse/Repurpose plastic containers
Plastic containers such as margarine or yogurt containers are really quite durable and great for storage. Repurposing these containers eliminates the need for other types of plastic storage containers you might typically buy.
9) Avoid plastic bags
Plastic bags are the 2nd most common type of marine debris. As the plastic breaks apart, smaller and smaller pieces of plastic find their way into the food chain.
Plastic bags also wreck havoc for municipal water management systems. Hundreds of millions of dollars in flood damage have been resulted from bags that block drainage sewers in cities arounds the world, thereby exacerbating ocean and waterway pollution.
A few reusable environmentally friendly canvas bags will serve well as replacements.
A tried and true method to reduce your plastic waste. We hope it's a little obvious.
11) Purchase environmentally friendly clothing
The fashion industry is a significant polluter of oceans and waterways. Many common fabrics used in our clothing comes at a significant environmental cost.
The production of cotton (which employs harsh chemicals and fertilizers that leak into waterways), the use of toxic dyes to colour our clothing, the drainage of chemical liquids into rivers by production factories, the significant waste that fast fashion generates... these are all real problems in the fashion industry, to name a few.
Environmentally friendly fabrics, such as organic cotton, will reduce the negative impact our clothing has on the environment.
12) Participate in beach and waterway clean ups
Mark your calendars! September 17th is International Coastal Clean Up Day. But feel free to do all the coastal cleaning your heart desires during the rest of the year. Challenge yourself to clean up a few pieces of trash you come by when visiting oceans, lakes, or rivers.
13) Be an advocate
Your local municipality has a big role to play in protecting our environment. Becoming an advocate in your local community matters greatly, even if you're nowhere near an ocean, river, or lake. We all have an impact on oceans, regardless of where we live.
Encourage your local governments to take action.
You might, for example, petition your local government to provide unlimited curbside recycling. The easier it is for people to recycle, the more plastic waste we can divert from oceans, waterways, and landfills.
14) Watch out for microbeads
Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic, no more than 5 millimetres, often used in personal care products such as soaps, facial scrubs, and toothpastes. Because of their size, they pass unfiltered through municipal water treatment facilities, and make their way to waterways.
Reports have found anywhere from 1,500 to 1.1 million microbeads per square mile on the surface of the Great Lakes.
Thankfully, countries like Canada and the US are stepping up to ban the use of microbeads.
15) Try using glass containers
Old mason jars aren't just totally cute and hipster, they're also convenient and environmentally friendly. Perfect for food storage and the like.
You can even wash out and reuse glass containers you pick up from the grocery store, such as pasta sauce jars or jam jars.