Deadly plastics


In the last ten years we have produced more plastic then we did in the last century, enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times! Plastic is the largest source of marine litter in the ocean, billions of pounds of plastic can be found in ocean upwelling zones making up about 40% of the world’s ocean surfaces. 80% of all pollution enters the ocean from land. Plastic is everywhere, small fragments are found nearly everywhere on earth. Harmful chemicals leached by plastics are present in the bloodstream and tissues of almost every one of us. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the biggest ocean garbage site in the world located off the coast of California in the North pacific gyre. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.

The impacts on animals

Marine animals mistake plastic for food and are constantly ingesting plastics. Fish in the North pacific ingest 12,000- 24,000 tons of plastic each year this causes internal injuries, death and bioaccumulation. (Bioaccumulation is the build up of substances or chemicals inside an organism). Sea turtles also mistake floating plastics for food such as plastic bags, which unfortunately resemble their favourite food, Jellyfish. Although loggerhead sea turtles have been found with soft plastic, ropes, Styrofoam, and monofilament lines in their stomachs. Ingestion of plastic can lead to blockage in the gut, ulceration, internal perforation and death; even if their organs remain intact, turtles may suffer from false sensations of satiation and difficulties in reproduction. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds ingest plastic every year. Plastic ingestion reduces the storage space in the stomach, causing birds to consume less food and eventually starve. They also feed the small pieces plastic from their stomach to their chicks, mistaking it for food.

Marine animals are also suffocated by plastics such as carrier bags and six pack holders, which can block air passageways and/or cause abnormal growth patterns.


Entanglement occurs when common items like fishing line, strapping bands and six-pack rings get wrapped around animals affecting their mobility. Once entangled, animals have trouble eating, breathing and/or swimming, all of which can have fatal results. Marine mammals suffer from entanglement the most as they are larger. Large amounts of plastic have been found in the habitat of endangered Hawaiian monk seals, including in areas that serve as pup nurseries. Entanglement deaths are severely undermining recovery efforts of this seal, which is already on the brink of extinction. Entanglement in plastic debris has also led to injury and mortality in the endangered Steller sea lion, with packing bands the most common entangling material. In 2008 two sperm whales were found stranded along the California coast with large amounts of fishing net scraps, rope and other plastic debris in their stomachs.

What can we do?

According to the European Commission, 800,000 tonnes of single-use plastic bags are used every year in the European Union. The average citizen used 191 of them in 2010, and only 6% were recycled. More than four billion bags are thrown away each year in Europe. Indeed, the on-going problems associated with disposable plastic bags have prompted councils to find ways of getting shoppers to cut down. And so the 5p charge was introduced to the UK, the scheme aims to reduce the use of single-use plastic carrier bags, and the litter associated with them, by encouraging people to re-use bags.

This is a good start but what else can be done? You can be part of the solution by making these 10 lifestyle changes today:

  1. BUY products with little or no plastic packaging, and products made from recycled materials.
  2. REDUCE the amount of plastic and other waste you use by Bringing Your Own metal water bottle, coffee mug, bag, etc.
  3. RECYCLE as much as possible.
  4. REFUSE to use plastic single-use items, such as plastic grocery bags, plastic tableware and plastic cups.
  5. DISPOSE of your waste properly.
  6. KEEP storm drains clean.
  7. SPREAD the word! Tell friends how to properly dispose of trash and recycling, and encourage them to Bring Their Own.
  8. GET INVOLVED in local politics and encourage our leaders to pass bans on plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, and more.
  9. PARTICIPATE in an SOS beach or river cleanup!
  10. REPORT litter incidents in Monterey County through this easy online tool.

Kathini 🙂



Marine litter and its cost…

The British coastal holiday market is estimated at £4.7billion annually. This includes another £1.2billion if you include the 110 million day-trippers. The coastal holiday market dominates the local economy of the South West of England, West of Scotland and West Wales.

If a beach is flooded in litter, you’re probably not going to visit that beach are you?

Marine litter can cause beaches to close. This has happened in the US. Consequently, littering is a high-priority issue with coastal local authorities, who may spend a great deal of money clearing litter from their beaches.

Direct costs include collect & disposal of litter a beach + higher/purchase of cleaning equipment. The hidden costs include lost revenue, education, health and harbour costs.

In a survey of 56 coastal Local Authorities, the total cost of beach cleaning was reported to be £1,953,238 for England, Scotland and Wales. This does not represent the total amount of local authorities, which is why total costs will exceed well over £2million.

The problem marine litter causes at a local level:

2 million visitors per year visit Somerset’s resort of Weston-Super-Mare. Tourist trade is worth £14 million per annum to the local economy. The recreational quality of its two beaches are therefore very important to the local community. Weston Beach is mechanically raked and swept once or twice per day in the summer, and is hand-picked in the winter.

The annual cost of cleaning on the two beaches is estimated as £100,000.

Using Marine Litter

Some people think of marine litter as rubbish that can’t be used again. Other people use marine litter to create something that can be used in everyday life. From driftwood mirrors to marine litter guitars, people can create extraordinary things out of ‘rubbish’!

All it takes is a bit of imagination, some marine litter, a bit of glue or screws. And you could end up with something like this.


Locally (Devon) we have our own treasure hunter, teacher Louise Slee, who has spent her spare time creating beautiful masterpieces from marine debris found on her local beach. Her work brings great awareness about marine litter too, if you would like to find out more about her work, she runs a Facebook page called Tregantle Beach, Trinkets, Treasures and Trash. A wonderful way to make your beach clean more arty! For more information about setting up a beach clean read our post here.

So the next time you’re walking along a beach and see some litter, take it! Start collecting plastic, wood or even glass. You never know, you could create the next mantelpiece that’s going above your fireplace or even a gift to give someone as a Christmas present.





KIMO. (2000). Impacts of Marine Debris and Oil: Economic and Social Costs to Coastal Communities (KIMO).ISBN

Rees, Gareth, and Kathy Pond. “Marine Litter Monitoring Programmes—A Review Of Methods With Special Reference To National Surveys”. Marine Pollution Bulletin 30.2 (1995): 103-108. Web.

The Not-So-Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a myriad collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Marine debris is litter that ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water. 

So for example, plastic litter we throw on the ground such as plastic rings from cans of drink, food packaging and plastic bottles all inevitably end up in our oceans where currents and wind carry it into the biggest ocean gyre on planet Earth. The patch is characterized by exceptionally high relative concentrations of ‘pelagic’ plastics, chemical sludge and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre.

An ocean gyre is a system of circular ocean currents formed by the Earth’s windpatterns and the forces created by the rotation of the planet, and the video below discusses the butterfly effect of how an individual’s littering habits can contribute to a much more catastrophic issue.

Charles J. Moore discovered the Great Pacific Garbage patch in 1997 while returning to southern California after finishing the Los Angeles-to-Hawaii Transpac sailing race. He and his crew caught sight of trash floating in the North Pacific Gyre, one of the most remote regions of the ocean. He wrote articles about the extent of this garbage, and the effects on sea life, which attracted significant attention in the media and let to his 1999 study that showed there was six times more plastic in this part of the ocean than the zooplankton that feeds ocean life.

“As I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean,” Moore later wrote in an essay for Natural History, “I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic. It seemed unbelievable, but I never found a clear spot. In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments.” An oceanographic colleague of Moore’s dubbed this floating junk yard “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”


The problem with the accumulation of plastics in this gyre is that plastic is non biodegradable. It simply breaks into smaller pieces over time without degrading. This means that the garbage patch will be here for thousands upon thousands of years. A lot of this garbage patch is made up of a microplastic soup – this can’t be seen by satellites, but the cloudy water is made up of tiny microplastics that are fatal to marine life.

So how can we help this absolutely catastrophic issue? First of all, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is so far from any country’s coastline that no nation will take responsibility ir provide funding to clean it up – the sailor who discovered the vortex, Charles Moore, says that cleaning up the patch would “bankrupt any country that tried it.” However, many individuals  and international organisations are dedicated to preventing it from growing even more, such as The Ocean Cleanup.

You can help by donating to The Ocean Cleanup HERE.


I don’t ‘ship’ shipping…


Shipping is a huge industry as it’s hugely important for trade between countries – over 90% of global trade is done by cargo ships. With around 50,000 merchant ships it’s no surprise there is an issue with them causing marine pollution issues. If you think that one massive container ship is equal to 50 million cars then you should be able to imagine the huge amount of fumes and other pollutants it must be emitting to the atmosphere and our oceans!

How the ships release pollution:

  • Release of oil and chemicals – ships obviously need oil/petrol to run and many ships also carry oil around as their cargo; this can then be released into the ocean by accidental spills and operational discharges.
  • Release of biocides – antifouling paints (which are used on ship hulls to prevent the build-up of barnacles, algae, sponges, molluscs etc.) generally contain toxic substances; a big concern is tributyltin (TBT) which has been shown to have a damaging effect on the endocrine system – being most problematic in molluscs.
  • Air pollution – the fuel used for ships is basically waste oil, it is very thick and contains a lot of sulfur. Shipping is by far the largest transport polluter of sulfur oxides in world, releasing 20 million tons annually.
  • Waste disposal – garbage and sewage from the ships is often just dumped in the sea; this contributes to the plastic pollution of the oceans as well as eutrophication.
  • Transfer of invasive species – as ships are travelling all over the world they can unintentionally pick up species from one place and carry them to another (generally on their hull or in their ballast water). When new species are introduced to a new environment they can sometimes have a detriment effect and become a pest.
  • Physical damage – from dropping of anchors, dredging, noise and wave disturbance and even the hitting of whales and other marine mammals


The distribution of shipping pollution is due to the shipping routes – more damage is detectable in shipping lanes and ports as more ship congestion is found in these places.

 Map of the worlds shipping lanes showing the traffic density:


Image: Fred Pierce


So what can be done to reduce the pollution caused by shipping?

Because the shipping industry is so huge and so important for the economy it’s not really something that can be stopped, however measures can be taken to make sure that it is more environmentally friendly. However, as members of the general public all we can really do is make more people aware of the damage that is currently being caused and thus help to persuade large organisations to make a change to the legislation.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is basically the rules that all ships on the sea have to apply to:

The International Marine Organisation (IMO) is the organisation responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. You can check out their website for more details on what they do:

Beth x


References, (2016). Big polluters: one massive container ship equals 50 million cars. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Feb. 2016].

MNN – Mother Nature Network, (2016). Eniram outsmarts waves to reduce cargo emissions. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Feb. 2016].

Network, M. (2011). 8 Ways in which Cruise Ships Can Cause Marine Pollution. [online] Marine Insight. Available at: [Accessed 19 Feb. 2016].

Omae, I. (2003). Organotin Antifouling Paints and Their Alternatives. ChemInform, 34(14).

OSPAR Commission, (2010). Releases of anti-fouling chemicals. Assessment of the impact of shipping on the marine environement. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Feb. 2016]., (2016). Marine problems: Shipping. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Feb. 2016].

Top 10 Marine Charities YOU Can Donate To

  1.  The Ocean Cleanup 

The Ocean Cleanup is a charity that works towards preventing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch from growing any bigger. The ocean gyre is a haven for tonnes upon tonnes of marine litter and it’s a vital cause to support.

2. Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy have a sustainable vision for a healthy ocean. They use science-based solutions to tackle the biggest threats to our ocean by restoring the gulf, confronting ocean acidification and contributing to trash free seas.

3. Surfers Against Sewage (SAS)

SAS are working at community, corporate and government level to tackle the marine litter crisis; they have a vision to reduce UK beach litter by 50% by 2020. This is a great charity for UK residents to support for a solution closer to home, and they have multiple campaigns within their overall target.

4. Oceana

Oceana’s vision is “to make our oceans as rich, healthy, and abundant as they once were” through fighting against overfishing, marine pollution and destructive fishing processes through identifying practical solutions and making them happen.

5. Greenpeace

Greenpeace are aiming to campaign and create Ocean Sanctuaries that protect several miles of sea, enabling fish to grow bigger, produce more eggs and create a healthier more thriving ocean. They’re also fighting against littering and overfishing.

6. Sailors For The Sea

Sailors For The Sea are passionate sailors that are striving for cleaner, healthier seas, by holding regattas, teaching in the classroom and running awareness campaigns.

7. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

‘Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.’

8. Plastic Pollution Coalition

The Plastic Pollution Coalition urges people to live by the 4 R’s – Refuse, Reuse, Recycle, Reduce. Refuse one use plastics, reuse those plastics that are resuable, recycle and reduce your consumption of plastics. They are fully in support of reducing the amount of plastics in our seas.

9. Sylvia Earle Alliance

The SE Alliance wants to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas such as that of Greenpeace.

10. Surfrider Foundation

A non-profit organization working to protect and preserve the world’s oceans by focusing on water quality, coastal ecosystems, beach access, beach and surf spot preservation.

Seren x

Yellow fishes:

Have you ever seen a yellow fish painted next to a drain cover? If so it’s likely a part of the yellow fish campaign. The yellow fish campaign is run in Britain, and involves stencilling a yellow fish symbol next to drains to remind people that any waste entering them may go directly to the nearest open water – causing pollution and killing wildlife.

But we don’t put our rubbish down drains, do we? Well, we do. Litter is easily carried in water or by the wind, any dropped litter can so easily end up down a drain, and where it goes from there so unknown to us. It may go to a treatment plant, or into our waters. When in the water we really have no control over what happens next, oil is one of the biggest issues when in drain water, it doesn’t mix with water, and could potentially cause the suffocation of an entire lake. One litre of oil can pollute one million litres of drinking water⁴, a lot right? So remember only water down the drain. Oil can be recycled at local recycling centres, where it’s possibly used to make biofuel.

It’s believed that 10 % of all plastic debris ends up in the oceans¹, we might try to avoid directly placing debris in our water but, there are lots of drains that lead to water. That’s where the yellow fish campaign comes it, it raises awareness of drains which will go straight into the water works untreated. Some places the yellow fish will also tell you where they enter: beach, river, stream, lake, estuary etc. Marine litter is easily carried to the sea by the rivers².

So what kind of litter is found in these drains, in a survey it was found that 32% were tobacco products, 20% were plastic, 16% confectionary products, 16% paper, 9% glass, 4% metal, and 3% unclassified³. But Tobacco products aren’t that bad are they? 4.5 trillion cigarette butts enter the environment every year. Sadly, they will become more toxic as the filter will collect different chemicals found in the water, before some unsuspecting animal or child eats them by mistake.

But the yellow fish campaign is here to change that. It’s raising awareness of what we are doing to our waters, and it’s so simple to get involved!

As the campaign is run completely by volunteers you can do the project whenever you like. All you need to do is stencil a yellow fish next to surface water drains. To do this you do require the permission of the owner of the drain, on public land this will be your local highways department. You could also create leaflets to spread the word to your wider community.

Businesses can get involved too! Why not have your shop or development, more environmentally friendly and educate people too. Improve your environment to improve your profit, sounds good to me for just adding a simple yellow fish.


For more information about how to get involved in England click here.


Lauren x



  1. Thompson RC, Olsen Y, Mitchell RP, Davis A, Rowland SJ, John AW, McGonigle D, Russell AE (2004). Lost at sea: where is all the plastic? Science, 304, 838.
  2. Sadri, SS, & Thompson, RC (2014) On the quantity and composition of floating plastic debris entering and leaving the Tamar Estuary, Southwest England. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 81, 55–60.
  3. KAB, (2009) National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost Study. Keep America Beautiful, Inc. <> accessed: 20/02/16
  4. Ashworth M, (2012) Yellow fish guidance manual [manual obtained in Exeter branch] 19/02/16

What can YOU do?

With a blog filled to the brim with information on marine pollution and individual solutions, how can we make a real, active change? It’s all well and good to do our bit little by little, and it’s a real positive start, but why don’t we inspire and motivate eachother to do more? It could be a few hours actively working at the weekend or sharing information amongst friends. Whatever it is, we can and we should help.

So, where can we start?

  1. A beach clean up!

It’s no doubt that everyone loves a good trip to the beach, so why not make it into a trip of being constructive? A popular destination amongst millions of people, beaches can become dump sites. Think about people leaving picnics behind, plastic packaging,  bags, cigarette ends – the list is endless! Beach clean ups are actually quite a popular idea – all you do is gather a bunch of people to visit your local beach and pick up all the litter. The more the merrier  – afterall, the more people that go, the quicker the job is done! This is a really small yet positive step in the right direction of clearing our seas of litter. Why not check out this  guide?

2. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.

It’s been found that over 80% of marine pollution originates from land, therefore making humans directly responsible. The more rubbish we put into our bins instead of our recycling means that we’re putting more rubbish into our oceans. We personally can easily change this by simply recycling. For example, reusing plastic bags, composting food scraps and recycling glass, plastic, paper, and cans.The more we recycle means the more rubbish that is out of our bins and out of our oceans. Read here for more information.

3. Protect Our Drains.

By protecting our stormwater drains we can make a huge difference in preventing marine pollution. This is because stormwater drains collect and remove rainwater from our streets, so when rubbish is washed into our drains, it flows straight into our rivers and streams, thus flowing into the ocean! We can easily prevent this by not littering in our roads, because everything we throw onto the road will most likely end up in our seas. For example, cigarette butts, oil from cars, pieces of plastics and other bits of rubbish are the most common pieces of litter transported through stormwater drains, and these endlessly pollute our seas. If we refrain from littering and maintain our vehicles in the correct way, then we can easily prevent this from happening!

4. Support Ocean Charities

Quite easily the simplest one of them all, you can easily support a marine charity from the comfort of your own home! There are plenty out there trying to keep our seas clean such as Marine Conservation Society, Sea Life Trust, Oceana, SeaBin, Ocean Conservancy and so many more! Supporting one of these organisations can help towards making our oceans a safer, cleaner and healthier place.


Microbeads, macro-pollution:

Some people don’t even realise the damage that just washing their face or brushing their teeth with the wrong brand of product can do to our oceans. Products that contain tiny beads of plastic, such as face and body scrubs and some toothpastes, are the main perpetrators of the accumulation of these tiny beads in fish and other marine organisms.

Microbeads are really tiny plastic particles usually smaller than two millimeters.  They’re widely used in cosmetics as exfoliating agents and personal care products such as toothpaste, as well as biomedical and health science research, microscopy techniques, fluid visualization and fluid flow analysis, and process troubleshooting. They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene. Bottom line, it’s all plastic!

Microbeads don’t degrade, they will just breakdown into small and smaller pieces of plastic – the scary thing is, plastic is already the most abundant element in oceans. Microbeads are easily mistaken for food in the ocean, to the point the plankton are eating them. Something as small as plankton! Hard to believe the plastic would become that small isn’t it? Plankton is at the bottom of most marine food chains, so the beads travel, and as they travel they are collecting POPs (persistent organic pollutants), long-lasting toxic chemicals like pesticides, flame retardants, motor oil and more. Theses POPs are being carried up the food chain, all the way to us. In turn something we place in the ocean is returning to us, served on a plate. Literally.

In 2015 it was estimated that in the US there were 8 trillion microbeads a day entering the ocean. But the US isn’t alone, microbeads are in products in most countries, but there is hope. Globally pressures are rising on governments to ban the usage of microbeads, and it’s working.

Currently the US has called a ban on products that use microbeads, check out this video:

The next step is to get other countries and eventually the rest of the world to eradicate the use of plastic microbeads in their products. There are alternatives to microbeads which are biodegradable and less harmful to the ocean.

For now though to personally help the cause, please try and choose products that don’t use microplastics; there are environmentally friendly products that use things such as apricot shells, cocoa beans, coffee or sands instead.

Why aren’t they removed in water treatment, you may cry. The particles are so tiny that it is near impossible to filter them out. The ones that are? Well they end up in water treatment sludge which is used to fertilise land, the microbeads then get washed off by rain and end up in the rivers on their way to the sea. The 90% of the micro plastics that is removed in the Sewage treatment plants eventually ends up in the sludge.

I have included a list of all the companies and their products which are known to contain microbeads in the UK so you can choose to avoid them and help save our oceans and marine life.

Or if you would rather something to have when you’re around the shops, there is an app. Beat the microbead! The North Sea Foundation and the Plastic Soup Foundation – launched the smartphone App in 2012 as part of their Beat the Microbead campaign. The app allows people in Hong Kong and many other countries scan the barcodes of personal care products to check for the presence of microbeads. The apps is ran by Plastic Free Seas volunteers, who have been scanning products and uploading to make it easier for consumers to make a more informed choice. Hong kong still have a long way to go as they have new microbead products being released frequently, and you can always volunteer to keep updating the app through the Plastic Soup Foundation.

Beth x


Plastic Soup Foundation

Feature image

Seabin our Salvation

The Seabin Project is a recent Kickstarter project founded by two surfers in the hopes to remove litter from our oceans one pump at a time, but what’s spurred them on to do this?

It’s estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea with one refuse truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into the sea every minute. The rate at which we’re trashing our seas is quite frankly appalling; we’re treating our oceans like our own personal rubbish bin, with around 80 percent of marine litter originating on land with most of that being plastic. This immense amount of land originating litter is causing huge problems, with marine life eating our plastics and thus dying from choking, intestinal blockage and starvation. Microbeads too are toxic sponges and are being consumed by marine life. This means that consumed toxins inevitably make their way up the food chain which could lead to disastrous consequences for human health.

So how does Seabin help with our current and very real pollution and littering issue?

“The Seabin project have designed and made an automated rubbish bin that catches floating rubbish, oil, fuel and detergents. It’s designed for floating docks in the water of marinas, private pontoons, inland waterways, residential lakes, harbours, water ways, ports and yacht clubs and can even be fitted to super yachts and motor yachts!”

This means that any litter that gets dragged into our harbours, marinas or yacht clubs will be sucked into the newly designed rubbish bin that works through a pump system. The fact they can even be fitted to super and motor yachts means that boats can even pick up rubbish whilst sailing the ocean! However, marine ports are the best place to start situating the Seabins as they’re controlled environments with wind currents constantly bringing in rubbish from further out. But how does it logistically work?

“The Seabin is situated at the water’s surface and is plumbed into a shore based water pump on the dock. The water gets sucked into the Seabin bringing all floating debris and floating liquids into the Seabin. We catch all the floating debris inside the Seabin and the water then flows out through the bottom of the bin and up into the pump on the dock.
The water then flows through the pump where we have the option of installing an oil/water separator and clean water then flows back into the ocean. This process is constant, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The Seabin is situated at the water’s surface and is plumbed into a shore based water pump on the dock. The water gets sucked into the Seabin bringing all floating debris and floating liquids into the Seabin. We catch all the floating debris inside the Seabin and the water then flows out through the bottom of the bin and up into the pump on the dock.
The water then flows through the pump where we have the option of installing an oil/water separator and clean water then flows back into the ocean. This process is constant, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”

They’ve even designed it using sustainable materials and with a ‘natural fiber catch bag’ that catches all the debris without being too big to prevent someone lifting it out and emptying it. But what if it gets full and doesn’t get emptied? No worry, the Seabin will still attract litter towards it and keep it there.

This project is so so critical and by doing the small task of spreading awareness and sharing the link on your social media outlets, you can help clear the seas one Seabin at a time. You can read even more about the Seabin here.


Reduce, reuse, revive our oceans:

Prevention rather than cure. If we can’t stop the amount of litter entering our oceans, we can at least try and reduce it. Here we will look at ways which you can do just that from the comfort of your own home. Recycling and reusing items is one of the easiest ways you can help the ocean without leaving your own home. Even if you are completely landlocked your actions can still make a difference.

Some ocean friendly choices are:

  • Use bags for life instead of normal plastic bags:

A plastic bag can take between 150 years to over 1,000 years before it degrades. However it doesn’t biodegrade, it’s broken down by light into tiny little fragments of plastic, which are toxic – these are known as microplastics. In relation to the ocean, an estimated 1,o00,000 birds, 100,000 turtles, and countless other sea organisms die each year from ingesting plastic, according to Greenpeace. They easily mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and other edible sea creatures. Having a reusable carrier bag would prevent even more plastic entering our oceans.

  • Recycle:

Recycling 14 trees worth of paper reduces air pollutants by 165,142 tons. I know we’re discussing marine pollution, however ocean acidification is caused by the uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere and recycling could potentially slow the rate of coral bleaching and save calcified organisms.

The dumping of used plastic destroys sea life at an estimated 1,000,000 sea creatures per year! Glass and plastic take the longest to degrade, but are completely recyclable, which is why it’s important we recycle them. It’s believed that 60%-70% of rubbish we put in our bins could have been recycled instead. Recycling doesn’t just reduce the amount of waste entering the ocean, it also reducing the amount of power we use. Theoretically, we could hit two birds with one stone. When we produce aluminum products from virgin metal it consumes close to 100 times the power required to recycle aluminum. In the UK an estimated 70% of our energy comes from non-renewable energy sources, if we use less energy we will lower the amount of air pollution, which I’ve already mentioned has horrific effects for our oceans.

  • Food scraps to compost:

In 2009 it was found that an estimated 25% of food bought by households was thrown away. Food waste contains Nitrogen and Phosphorous which when in water can lead to eutrophication and algae blooms.

By collecting your food waste and using it to produce compost you are reducing your rubbish and making compost which can be used instead of artificial fertilizers.

Some easy steps for setting up a home compost:

  1. A home compost bin should be at least 1 metre cubed, with a lid to prevent rain entering. Some local councils sell them at reduced rates.
  2. Ideally site your compost bin in a reasonably sunny site on bare soil.
  3. Bottomless bins are better as the allow earthworms to enter and speed up the process.
  4. Lot’s of food waste can be used to make compost, except: meat/fish products, dairy products, grease/oil or bones.
  5. The smaller your scraps are cut the quicker then can decompose.
  6. You can compost: peelings, egg shells, hair, small amounts of paper/softcard, plants, and tea/coffee particles.
  7. Keep filling it!
  8. Composting can take weeks or months depending on how much air and moisture are present,
  9. The compost is ready to use when it is crumbly in appearance and has a slightly earthy smell.
  10. Spread away!

Compost is great for the environment and great for you, it’s free to make and replaces somewhat expensive fertilizer and shop bought compost.

  • Purchase items with minimum packaging:

When you go into a supermarket, it’s likely you will see more packaging that you will food. I know I do! Apple surrounded in styrofoam holders swarming with plastic wrapping, bread suffocating in plastic bags. To reduce your waste and plastic usage try and purchase items which come with less packaging, or at least recyclable packaging. Most plastic can be recycled but make sure to read the package, or look for the recyclable symbol. Styrofoam isn’t recyclable and can take over 500 years before usually begins to break down. In the ocean styrofoam is often mistake for food and eaten; when inside the organism it blocks the digestive tract and the organism will usually starve and thus die.

On a positive note, we are making a difference – we are increasing the amout of power we receive from renewable sources; we are also reducing the amount of plastic we use. We’re moving forwards to a brighter future – one with a healthier ocean.

I hope these tips have given you a few ideas to help you lead a greener life, and to know that no matter how far away from the coast you are, you matter to it.

Lauren 🙂



recycling statistics