How can we make a difference
We know what is ending up in the ocean, how it finds its way there, and how harmful it is to marine animals, so what can we do to stop this happening.
What are some of the ways you think we can stop trash ending up in the ocean, especially plastics?
These are some suggestions to discuss with students.
CHANGING WHAT WE DO
By thinking about what we do and use we can help make a difference and reduce our waste.
1. What we buy and consume
Refuse – When offered these items just say no. For instance plastic straws or plastic bags.
Reduce is simple if you don’t really need it, don’t take it. Avoid plastic wrappings and balloons etc, ending up in the ocean and harming the environment.
Instead of single use plastic products that could end up in the ocean, how about choosing reusable items. Like using a reusable water bottle and cutlery rather than disposable plastic. Encourage your parents to use items like coffee cups and travel mugs for when they buy coffee rather than disposable cups.
2. What we do with items that are broken or damaged.
- First try to repair – why buy new when you can simply learn how to repair things.
- Second repurpose – if you can’t repair an item then think of new ways you can use it. Old sheets and clothes for example can be used to make bedding for orphaned and injured wildlife.
- Thirdly refinish – would a new coat of paint or polish make it useable again.
3. What we do with items we no longer need.
- Rehome - if an item is in good condition but you don’t need or want it anymore, like toys you have outgrown. Then they could be donated to a charity for someone who has very little, they can be sold/swapped at swap markets, or you can have your own swaps with family and friends.
- Recycle - can’t repurpose or repair it, then recycle as much as you can. Make sure you separate out your rubbish between what can go into the compost bin, recycling bin and normal waste. The less you send to dump the better, especially plastics.
Some plastics can be returned for recycling at stores, like ink cartridges, others can be donated to special programs where they can be converted for 3D printing. Such as programs to make items that help communities, like making artificial limbs for children in need.
The more we refuse single use plastic items and recycle what we can, the less demand there is to produce new products and it also lessens the chance it will end up in the ocean, which could help save thousands of marine animals each year.
It is estimated only 9% of the plastic ever produced has been recycled.
4. What we do with waste / marine debris found on land or in the ocean.
- Remove rubbish from parks, schoolyards and beaches. Every bit you pick up helps prevent rubbish from ending up in drains and waterways and ultimately ending up in the ocean.
- Help recover marine debris from waterways and the ocean. People join in dives to remove rubbish from around jetties / piers, reef systems and the seafloor.
Note – ensure you obey the laws, some areas have restrictions on removing rubbish, like fishing nets, to ensure the reef or ecosystem is not damaged.