Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Plastics, Marine Debris and a Healthy Ocean

It’s no secret, the ocean is a wonderful place. We use it for recreation, to support our economy through tourism and seafood, and it serves as a home for thousands of species of wildlife from the largest whales to smallest microorganisms. A healthy ocean matters.

The Ocean is not as healthy as it once was. One of the major reasons is marine debris. Marine debris is anything floating in the ocean that doesn't belong there. Sometimes it’s left there on purpose but most often it ends up in the water accidentally. The less plastic we use, the smaller our impact on the planet. Many ocean creatures are injured or killed by plastic through entanglement or by ingesting it.

No matter how far you live from the ocean, you can do something about marine debris.  Since the majority of marine debris is plastic, we can keep plastic out of the oceans by reducing the amount of plastic in our lives

Four R’s Can Help

Refuse to use unnecessary plastic. This may be the most important step in keeping plastic out of the ocean. Refuse single use, disposable plastics. Start small - refuse one piece of plastic a day.
     · Say no to straws for your drinks. You can purchase glass or stainless steel straws to keep handy.
     · Politely decline a plastic bag for one or two items you can easily carry. Carry a reusable bag and remember to keep  it with you.
     ·  Don’t accept plastic bags for takeout food.
     · Forget single use cups. Buy a reusable cup or bottle and fill it up. Many places will give you a discount for having your own cup.

Reduce the amount of plastic you use. Do a survey of plastic items that you use every day. Keep track for two weeks. What items can you do without?

Once you’re ready to seriously kick plastic out of your life, check out this website.

Reuse it. Plastic is a part of everyday life and not always easy to avoid. When you find yourself with plastics, be creative in ways to reuse. Find ways to reuse plastic bottles with clever ideas such as bird feeders, decorative flower planters, and art projects. Use plastic bags as trash can liners, wet clothing holder, dog walking clean up devices, and even art projects. Search the web for other, creative ways to reuse a variety of plastics. Check out suggestions on the Aquarium’s Pinterest page!

Recycle it. Finally, if you can’t refuse, reduce, or reuse plastic, then recycle it. Plastics can’t all be recycled the same way. Plastic bags can often go back to the store to be recycled. Learn more here.

Other types of plastic need special attention, too, such as bottle caps. Learn more here

Make the 4 R’s part of your life and do your part to keep the Ocean healthy. If you’d like to do more to help with Marine Debris check out the Marine Debris Tracker app from the University of Georgia.

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