Help Clean Our Oceans With These Sustainable Practices

With today being Earth Day, it’s important to learn about the way we have impacted marine life and how to be conscious about the waste we produce. I decided to do some research into the amount of unnecessary waste that fills the oceans, and here’s what I found.

5.25 trillion pieces of trash, mostly plastic, litters the oceans around the world. This trash is equal to about twice the size of Texas! The trash found at the surface of the water is only a small portion of the actual amount. Some of the trash floats while some sinks to the ocean floor and spreads. Americans alone produce up to 750,000 pounds of trash in the ocean every year.

The trash that clutters the ocean affects the lives of so many marine animals. In many cases, the animals ingest the trash and it ends up blocking their intestines and causing permanent damage to their bodies. There have been many instances where a sea animal washes up on shore and upon further inspection, clumps of trash were found in their stomachs and mouths. Sea turtles and oceanic birds for example can’t tell the difference between fish and plastic waste, so they swallow the trash and it gets lodged in their throats, or stuck in their stomachs. This is also true for whales and many fish species. Animals such as sea lions, penguins and seals often end up with bags wrapped around their limbs. The trash cuts off their circulation, and in some cases can result in death.

So you may be asking yourself,is she only writing this to make everyone feel bad about the waste in the oceans? The answer is no. There are ways to help clean up the ocean! Cleaning the ocean is not a process that can be handled in a year, it’s an effort that will take many generations until the ocean can be better suited for the animals. But, the effort can start with you. There are so many ways that you can help reduce the amount of plastic that enters the ocean every year, and even how to make sure animals aren’t as heavily affected by the trash. Here are just a few of the ways that you can start the change.

Use reusable bags

Using reusable bags can help reduce the amount of plastic bags used every day. Yes, the plastic bags are usually free from stores, but investing a few dollars into reusable bags is so useful. It’s a quick thing that doesn’t take a lot of effort to do, and it’s easier in the long run. Doing that alone can help decrease the waste by so much every year.

Stop using straws

Straws are one of the most overused plastic in the world. They’re used once and then discarded immediately and are almost impossible to break down. After seeing articles upon articles of sea turtles with straws lodged in their noses I made the conscious effort to stop using straws whenever I go anywhere. Companies are now making steel straws that you can wash and carry with you. Most of them even come with a little cleaning brush to make sure your straw is always clean. If straws are such a necessity for your life, investing in one of these straws will decrease your footprint.

Avoid Plastic Rings in Packagings

A culprit of strangling marine life are the plastic rings that holds cans of 6-packs together. These rings are made of very strong plastic that is very hard to rip apart, especially for animals. The rings get wrapped around animals fins, necks, tails, and snouts. Staying away from buying packages with these rings is the best option, but if that’s too hard for you, then simply cutting the rings apart before you throw them away will help a lot.

Clean Up After Yourself

The final way that you can help improve the ocean’s trash, is by simply cleaning up after yourself. When you go to the beach, don’t leave your trash everywhere. Throw it all away so that it is less likely to enter the water. Knowing which bin to put trash in is important as well. Recycle the things that are supposed to be recycled. Keep cans and bottles and return them for money back. It helps the environment and you can make a small profit off of it too. It’s a win-win situation. We were all taught the phrase “Reduce, reuse, recycle,” so follow it!

The important thing to remember is that humans control a lot about the world. We flooded the ocean with trash, so it’s important we help clean it up. Animals can’t clean it themselves. Being more conscious about the waste you produce in your daily life will help improve the lives of all animals around you. This Earth Day, make the conscious effort to help improve the world, and live a greener life. Don’t just do it this one day; Take small steps to live more sustainably every day.