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Ocean Plastic Set to Triple in Ten Years


You’ve likely seen some horrific images, whether in commercials, documentaries, or on social media, of a helpless bird or sea creature tangled in a web of plastic. Plastic and chemical pollution are among the leading causes of our oceans’ frightening drop in biodiversity, and the problem is only poised to become worse.

According to a new report released by the government of the United Kingdom the amount of plastic debris in the world’s oceans will triple within ten years unless governments, businesses, and citizens take drastic measures. The report, entitled “Foresight: Future of the Sea,” was the result of an ongoing collaboration between advisory professors, experts, government officials, and scientists.

In more than 120 pages the report breaks down the many factors that will influence the health and longevity of the ocean in the years to come. While the report was commissioned as an analysis of the United Kingdom’s relationship with the sea and oceans, the environmental issues outlined spell trouble for all of us.

Climate change and direct human activity like pollution are causing severe harm to the ocean, which covers 70% of the world’s surface. According to the report over 70% of ocean litter is non-biodegradable plastic. The amount of plastic is projected to increase to three times the current amount.

Even now, the full magnitude of this problem escapes many citizens who are not in the industry or who are not directly affected by ocean pollution yet. The ministry that released the report calls for an aggressive awareness campaign to mitigate this “out of sight, out of mind” mentality that allows many citizens to settle for inaction even when they’re aware of the pollution problem.

For example, are you aware of how much plastic has been produced since the process was refined over 60 years ago? According to the BBC a total of approximately 8.3 billion tons of non-biodegradable plastic has been manufactured in the last 65 years. I

In terms of weight this is the equivalent of 25,000 Empire State Buildings or one billion elephants. And due to plastic’s low density the actual mass of the plastic made is far greater than that of 25,000 Empire State Buildings, or one billion elephants.

So what can be done? While we can all advocate for change on a federal level and from large corporations, as long as a demand for convenient, disposable plastic exists there is little that can be done. The most direct route is to change your lifestyle and encourage others to do the same in order to reduce the overall use and waste of non-biodegradable plastic.

Buy your own paper or cloth bags and bring them to stores. Politely decline plastic bags if offered. Avoid plastic or disposable silverware and packaging – in order to do this, you must plan ahead for meals and bring silverware with you if you want to eat on the go. Purchasing household items in your local neighborhood instead of ordering them online will also reduce waste.

f course, single-use plastic water bottles are some of the largest culprits of plastic waste. Stop buying bottled water and fill a reusable bottle with filtered water before you leave home in the morning. The average American family uses 700 plastic water bottles a year – get that number to zero and help save our oceans!

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