As beachcombers and sea glass seekers, we share common interests. We love to be outside, whether it be on a beach looking for treasures, kayaking to new destinations in search of a new experiences, or simply hiking in the quiet of a nearby park or forest. We are nature lovers, all.
Although most of us don’t spend nearly enough time doing the things we know are important for our head and our hearts, we do try to live for the moments we spend with nature.
That is why we surround ourselves with evidence, remembrances of our time on the beach or near the water. Things like sea glass, driftwood, shells, nature photos, plants and even certain colors in our home decor remind us of where we want to be and what kind of life we want to live.
So it’s logical to conclude that we are all environmentalists, which simply means that we are concerned when the detrious we’ve created to make our lives convenient damages and destroys the natural world we depend on for our happiness.
I’m talking about plastic. Plastic bags, bottles, microplastics, microbeads and even drinking straws, are wreaking havoc in marine environments where animals ingest them, sometimes accidentally but often on purpose (they like the taste!) and die when all that plastic clogs the digestive system.
It is estimated that by 2050 the weight of plastic in the oceans will exceed the weight of the fish.
So where is all this plastic trash in our oceans coming from? Certainly not from those who are dutifully overfilling our recycling bins every week dragging them to the curbside for pickup. Our well meaning efforts are helpful but just not enough to stop the proliferation of plastic trash, and here’s why.
First of all, global plastic production has increased 190 fold between 1950 and 2015. Did you know that Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year? According to Charles Fishman’s story, “Message in a Bottle,” the U.S. recycling rate for plastic is only 23% which means 38 billion water bottles are wasted, either ending up buried in a landfill or becoming part of the plastic oceans.
Secondly, many of the world’s most heavily populated countries don’t practice any recycling or trash management which is the largest contributor to building the massive amount of plastic trash in our oceans.
So, what can we do? The solutions are kind of obvious, but not necessarily easy. First, embrace the reduction of global plastic production. You can do this by supporting local bans on plastic, including bags, straws and single use plastic bottles.
Try to reduce your own plastic consumption. Be aware of the problem. Educate yourself. Teach your children and grandchildren. And although it seems simplistic, if you see trash on the street, beach or park, please pick it up and dispose of it properly before it gets blown into the ocean.
Here is a link to one of the most concise stories I could find about the issue. And just wait until you find out how the toothpaste and face scrub you may be using contributes to ocean plastic pollution. Curious?