There is an ocean of opportunities to protect the planet, and on World Oceans Day, June 8, we join the global community to honor the countless ways oceans sustain life on Earth! Oceans act as the planet’s lungs, generating most of the oxygen we breathe. They contain more than 97% of the world’s water supply and store 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere.
But marine environments and ocean wildlife need our help to restore their health. Plastic and pollution pose a growing threat to as the world creates and disposes of plastic at a much faster rate than it can be sustainably managed. It’s estimated 80% of all ocean plastic originates from land-based sources, such as litter and inefficient recycling and recovery systems.
You don’t need to be an environmental expert or marine biologist to advocate for a plastic-free ocean! Here are some ways you can help reduce the plastic that enters the oceans and protect their biodiversity for future generations:
Make small changes in your everyday life.
No one decides to pour 8-12 million metric tons of plastic into the oceans every year, but the small choices we make as individuals every day influence how businesses, governments, and other power players in the world treat our natural resources, including our oceans. Take matters into your own hands to help beat plastic pollution and restore our oceans.
The most important way to do this is with the things we buy. Look for plastic alternatives. Try beeswax food wraps to cover a bowl or pack a sandwich. Instead of a plastic pitcher, store homemade beverages or water in a glass carafe. Keep your pantry organized with stainless steel canisters. These simple swaps can help you break free from some single-use plastics.
It’s important to “know what you throw” in the garbage and in the recycling bins every week. Conduct a trash audit the night before collection day and sort through your trash and categorize items as organics (such as food waste, soiled paper), curbside recyclables, recyclables that are not accepted at the curb, and typical non-recyclables.
The process might be a little messy, but it will provide a clear picture of how much waste your household generates each week. You can use this information to find ways to reduce your trash output!
Doing what you can to reduce your use of single-use plastic is important, but we also need to focus on preventing the rest from escaping into marine environments. Collecting discarded items so they can be recycled into material for new products is a key way to prevent ocean plastic pollution.
Before you toss your plastic products and packaging in the blue bin, take a moment to make sure it is actually recyclable where you live. Every community has its own regulations on what you can recycle through your local curbside recycling program and how to do it properly.
Support brands that have committed to do better by the environment.
The amount of plastic that currently pours in the ocean every year is equivalent to dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the deep, blue sea every minute of every day. At this rate, we’re projected to see more plastic than fish in the ocean by weight by 2050. To help combat this, many brands are stepping up to use less plastic or support the use of recycled materials.
For example, several P&G Hair Care brands have teamed up with TerraCycle to give reclaimed beach plastics—material collected by hand off shorelines and beaches considered difficult-to-recycle due to exposure to the elements and UV light—new life as recyclable shampoo and conditioner bottles.
First, it was the world’s #1 shampoo brand with Head & Shoulders in France, and the iconic Herbal Essences brand recently stocked shelves with its line of colorful bottles with cute phrases like “Waves of Change” and “Love your Shore,” offering a way to enjoy trusted products in recycled, recyclable packaging
Other brands have committed to recycling their products and packaging by sponsoring a National Recycling Program with TerraCycle. By joining one (or more!) of these easy-to-use programs, you can divert discarded items from ending up in landfills and oceans. Plus, you can redeem the points you earn from recycling to support The Ocean Project, the global leader for coordinating and collaboratively growing World Oceans Day into a global movement!
Spread the word.
Speak up about the harmful impacts plastics have on oceans and stay informed on issues related to marine litter and plastic pollution. This way you can help make others aware of the problem. Encourage your family and friends to think about what the ocean means to them and how they can help reduce the flow of plastic from land to sea. By having conversations and sharing ideas, everyone can be part of the solution.