Marine Debris and Plastics (Part 5)

8 million metric tons of plastic trash enters the ocean every year. Why is plastic marine debris so common?



Why is plastic marine debris so common?

We know there's a lot of trash in the ocean. Unfortunately, a lot of it is plastic. We find plastic everywhere from the ocean's floor to surface. The plastics are all shapes and sizes and all different types. We find it on beaches and inside animals' stomachs or wrapped around their bodies. That's bad news for our ocean and the animals that live in it or near it. It's also bad news for us.

A recent study from the University of Georgia estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic trash enters the ocean every year. That's like putting five bags filled with plastic on every foot of coastline in the world. That's a LOT of plastic in the ocean, and it's there because... well, we put it there!

The 5 most common items found during the International Coastal Cleanup are plastic cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, and plastic straws & drink stirrers. Notice anything in common with those things? It's a lot of single-use, disposable plastic.

It goes without saying – we produce too much waste. That waste ends up in the ocean when we litter or don't recycle. Plastic is an important part of our modern lives - we use it for a lot of good things! But we need to take responsibility for how much we use every day and where it goes when we're done with it.

The three R's can help – and it's up to every single one of us to practice them. Reduce the amount of disposable plastic you use. That's anything you use once and throw away. Just use less. Reuse disposable plastics when possible. A plastic bottle makes a great coin piggy bank or watering can. The possibilities are endless. Recycle anything that can be recycled, so it stays out of landfills, where trash can blow away.

Ocean plastic is a huge problem that's only going to get worse if we don't change our ways. We can do better – for the ocean, and for us.