Two-thirds of the plastic in the ocean comes from land based sources, this includes items being washed down rivers, littered on beaches or flushed down the loo. Plastic is deadly for marine wildlife such as sea birds, seals and turtles, as they can entangle themselves in it or mistake it for food. Another issue with plastic is it almost never breaks down. For example, a plastic bottle can last in the ocean for 450 years, slowly breaking into smaller and smaller pieces but never truly going away.
Current estimates show that 8 million pieces of plastic are entering the oceans every single day. We have a plastic epidemic on our hands, so what can we do?
The first step is to reduce your plastic footprint as much as possible. Eliminate single use plastic from your life and cut down as much as you can on the other plastic you use day-to-day and around the house.
The second step is to stop more plastic from going into the water. This is where the beach clean comes in. Whenever you’re on the beach, just pick up the litter you see around you, even a two minute clean makes a difference. The last time I was at Croyde beach in Devon, I used the provided litter pickers to collect what I could after an evening surf and it was really satisfying. For something that’s such a global issue, it feels good to play a part, and if everyone did the same, together the impact would be amazing.
It’s not just the beach, anywhere that there’s litter, there’s a chance it could reach the ocean, especially in our water ways. Whilst kayaking on the River Wye I managed to pick up a dozen plastic bottles out of the water and that was only in the time it took me to paddle a few minutes down the river.
First of all it felt a bit strange picking up other people’s litter, like why should I? But once you adjust your attitude towards it and instead just think about the change and impact you want to be part of it really does become satisfying.