Plastic Pollution of the Ocean: What can you do?

Plastic pollution is so prevalent in the ocean, and it causes most severe harm near coastlines.  Plastics are found in different shapes and sizes. The plastic litter threatens the marine life and negatively affect the coastal economies. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, marine debris is any solid material that’s produced or processed directly or indirectly, deliberately or inadvertently, and disposed into the Great Lakes or the sea.

Why do we use all sorts of plastic?

Plastic is useful material that is also durable, convenient, lightweight, and found universally. It is widely used for mass production, e.g. for the production of cutlery, cups, bags and toys, since it can be transformed into almost any shape and can be processed very economically. In addition, it has a high electrical insulation, a thermal protection and is also used for sound insulation.

Sources of plastic in marine environment

The material plastic is omnipresent in our everyday life and can reach the ocean in many ways. Take, for example, you purchase a plastic bottle, then you dispose it into a recycling bin. Unfortunately, the bottle never gets to the recycling plant. It could be blown into a river, a stream, or it might go into a storm drain. Afterwards, the plastic bottle can be broken into smaller pieces by the sun and water. These particles which are released in the waterbodies are a critical source of water pollution which may affect the life and health of many different organisms.

According to what is currently reliable and only available estimate, only 20% of the plastic pollution comes from ocean-based sources. The majority of the pollution {80%} is caused by land-related factors. Here is a look at the major land-based sources of plastic pollution;

  • Lack of proper waste management, as well as illegal dumping. Usually, plastic fragments from open dumping grounds can be carried into rivers, oceans, and streams. This will happen when there is no effective landfills in the area.
  • Natural disasters: Extreme natural calamities can cause almost any kind of waste being released into the sea. Although they are not frequent, such events can cause substantial environmental impacts
  • Insufficient filtration of wastewater. Even though wastewater treatment factories can filter waste, they cannot filter tiny plastic particles. Such particles like clothing fibers or cosmetic microbeads will pass and be released into the sea.
  • Storm water emission. Runoff water from storms can collect municipal waste, including waste from street litter, landfill waste, and dumpsites too. This will then be disposed into rivers, oceans, and streams.
  • CSOs. The Combined Sewer System will overflow after heavy rainfall. If the combined sewer plants are filled, they will overflow and release the waste into water bodies.
  • Coastal littering: People who love spending their time in beach may leave litter behind, which may include cigarette butts, food and plastic beach toys, and beverage packaging.

Effects of plastic on the marine environment

Plastic upsets the food chain

Because these plastic deposits come in sizes large and small, polluting plastics even affect the world’s tiniest organisms that live in water or on land.

Plastic pollutes the groundwater

The world’s water is in danger because of leaking plastics and waste. Most of the pollution affecting the world’s oceans also derives from plastics. This has had terrible consequences for many marine species.

How can we reduce plastic pollution?

Many groups and individuals around the world raise awareness and encourage all persons to help slow or stop our tide of trash before it too late and become marine debris. Many countries are now banning the use of plastic bags, for instance, Kenya and Rwanda, in Eastern Africa.

  • Go for reusable shopping bags and bottled water. You can purchase them from your local stores at reasonable prices.
  • Avoid using the daily plastics, for instance the juice cartons or regular sandwich bags. Alternatively, use thermoses or lunchboxes.
  • Avoid using disposable plastics like the single-serving packaging. Carrying reusable utensils in your backpack or purse can be handy whenever you step out of the house.
  • Carry you on-the-go mug to the coffee shop or restaurant.
  • Purchase media content online to limit the use of plastic DVDs and CDs.
  • Use any possible alternative to replace the plastic products around you.
  • Recycle the plastic product if you must use them.
  • Promote awareness by talking to your friends and family about the farm of plastic to the environment
  • Volunteer to clean up plastic polluted  areas like the beach
  • Support nature conservation organizations (such as WWF, Oceancare) with donations so they can continue their work

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends. By doing so, you help raise awareness for the pollution of the oceans. Many Thanks!

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