The Oceanic Society estimates that between 4 to 12 million metric tons of plastics enter the oceans each year. This figure is expected to triple over the next two decades. Plastic pollutions are a problem because plastics don’t go away. The plastics might break down into smaller pieces, but the plastics are still in the ocean. How can we protect the ocean?
Ocean pollution doesn’t just include plastics. Ocean pollution is any substance that enters the ocean and causes harmful effects. It can include chemicals, invasive organisms, noise, land runoff, and oil spills. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers enter the groundwater after applications to farmland. Excess nutrients are deposited in streams and rivers, which eventually make their way to the bays and deltas. Nitrogen robs the water of oxygen, meaning no marine life can exist. Ocean pollution has been a problem for decades. Without action from everyone around the world, our oceans will not be able to sustain life. The oceans don’t just provide food but are vital to local economies. The oceans produce over half of the oxygen required on earth. We have to keep our oceans clean.
Millions of people are already acting on ocean pollution. There are many beach and river clean-ups each season to fight plastic waste in the waterways. You can join an organization or just clean up on your own. When we work together collectively, it makes a difference.
One of the big things you can individually do is to be more conscious about using plastics, takeout bags, straws, coffee cups, water bottles, and utensils. Carry reusable versions with you to avoid contributing to the pollution problem. Ask businesses to find alternatives, paper straws or compostable utensils, for example.
Once you’ve started thinking about your plastic use, make sure that you’re recycling what you can. Glass bottles, metal cans, and most plastics can be recycled to avoid putting them into the ocean ecosystem. When you remodel, try to recycle materials and buy materials made of recycled items. Reuse what you can for as long as you can.
Make decisions about entertainment and work while thinking about your carbon footprint. Instead of taking a private boat ride on a vessel that uses gasoline, look for a boat that relies on energy-efficient travel. Go paperless in your office. Offset your travel that does have a carbon footprint by doing something for the environment.
Individually, we can each do our part, but it’s going to take more than individuals to keep the oceans clean. You can support bans on particular products that impact the environment. You can make others aware of the problem and support legislation that minimizes the damage to the oceans. Support businesses and organizations that work to keep the oceans clean.
Interested in the best whale watching San Diego? Make a reservation to watch ocean wildlife up close and personal to really understand why we have to protect our oceans.