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The Impacts of Plastic in the Ocean and Solutions

Plastic ocean pollution facts and solutions infographic describes the quantity of plastic in the ocean

In this blog post, I’m going to talk about the problem of plastic in the ocean. It’s a huge and challenging issue that we can all help solve by using more reusable materials, recycling what we use, and reducing our disposable items. There are many different ways you can get involved in this movement for change! Read on to find out how.

The world’s oceans are filled with plastic.

According to National Geographic, “some 8 million metric tons of plastics enter the ocean every year.” This is equivalent to one garbage truck full of plastic being dumped into the ocean per minute! Imagine what it would be like if you were swimming in a pool and there was so much trash floating on top that you couldn’t see your hand as it reached down for a drink.

That is pretty close to how we imagine life underwater might look like in our oceans today. National Geographic also reported that 80% of seabirds had eaten plastic, and by 2050, all sea creatures may live with some form of plastic-related disease or defect. This issue needs attention now more than ever.

The ocean is a beautiful thing.

It’s the perfect place to go for some time out from life’s hectic pace and enjoy your surroundings. And it’s not all that difficult to do, either! Just find yourself a nice sandy beach (or, if you’re feeling adventurous, an island!) and take in the sights with your toes buried in the sand and waves crashing at your feet.

But what if I told you that there was more plastic in the ocean than fish? What if I said we were filling up our beaches with trash as people sit back and watch? That would make the ocean seem less inviting, wouldn’t it? Imagine how much worse this must be for those living near or on these coasts who depend on fishing as their food source.

We’re not drowning with all the plastic in the ocean, but we are choking on it. Plastic pollution is a real problem that needs to be addressed and fixed- now. The first step to solving the issue is acknowledging its existence and understanding its big impact on our world. This blog post explores the causes, effects, and solutions to this growing global crisis. Here’s what you need to know about ocean plastics: -What are they? What caused them? How can I help?

Why we need a healthy ocean

Appearing like gigantic blue marbles, oceans are the largest water reservoir, covering 71% of the globe. The air we breathe, the oxygen we inhale, the heat vital to keep us warm, everything comes from oceans. Oceans prevent the earth from getting too hot or too cold by circulating heat, making it inhabitable. Besides these benefits, the vastness of the ocean integrates an immense diversity of animals and plants. From tiny organisms to large blue whales, oceans are home to millions of creatures.

Plastic ocean pollution facts and solutions

However, human activities have smothered the oceans with piles of trash and plastic over the past few years. Only Americans are generating 10.5million tons of plastic every year. Out of this, only 1 to 2% is recycled while the remaining goes to oceans. Every year humans are dumping more than 8 million tons of plastic into oceans. More than 70% of this plastic goes to the bottom of the water, where tiny creatures forming the food web base reside.

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Unfortunately, plastic does not go away; instead, it starts splitting into smaller pieces. These fragments absorb organic pollutants and sink in the marine bottom with time, waiting to be ingested by animals. These poison integrating chunks are no less dangerous than time bombs. Marine animals, including fish, turtles, and mammals, get entangled by these pieces; they immediately die following the suffocation.

Meanwhile, some of the plastic fragments are taken in by marine creatures, thus entering the food chain. When humans consume seafood, they fall prey to these toxic chemicals. Marine pollution has become one of the major issues the world is facing today. According to research, water pollution has impacted more than 267 species, including 44% sea birds,86% turtles, and 43% marine mammals.

In 2010, a California grey whale was found dead on the shores of Puget Sound. The whale’s stomach examination indicated a small towel, duct tape, surgical gloves, a golf ball, and more than 20 plastic bags.

Recent research indicated that marine pollution is severely affecting the turtle population worldwide.

More turtles are suffering from suffocation after ingesting pollutants. Young people are more vulnerable to eating debris among the entire turtle population as they aren’t as selective as their elders.

Apart from fish and turtles, seabirds are another victim of plastic debris. Seabirds that feed on the ocean surface also carry food for their chicks. A study indicated that almost 98% of chick samples were detected with plastic debris.

plastics seas global problem
Related: Why overfishing is becoming a serious problem

Many people, including myself, have probably wondered what the ocean would be like without any plastic in it. It isn’t easy to imagine a world without plastic bottles, containers, and bits of plastic floating everywhere.

The reality is that the ocean is already full of plastic, and most of it isn’t even visible- you often see small bits or pieces on beaches or caught in fishing nets. The problem with this is that these invisible particles are just as dangerous as larger pieces because they also contain harmful chemicals that can cause health problems for animals around them and humans when they enter their food chain. So if we don’t do anything about it, there will be many more plastics in the ocean than there currently are, and those plastics will also be much smaller and undetectable.

Recently, a company called Parley for the Oceans came up with a way to collect all those discarded plastics and turn them into something useful. They call it ‘ocean plastic.’ They first collect ocean plastics throughout coastal communities to make the material, then grind them down into tiny pieces and add recycled polyester. Their main goal is to replace virgin plastic and create a material that can help clean up the ocean.

Many apparel companies have teamed up with Parley to test this new material, including Adidas, Stella McCartney, and G-Star RAW. This collaboration is called ‘OTTZ,’ and it means Ocean Plastic Textile.

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Adidas has been a big supporter of OTTZ due to its past with plastic pollution and the harm it has caused. In 2015 Adidas made 1 million pairs of shoes from recycled ocean plastics that they collected in collaboration with Parley for the Oceans. They’ve decided to continue their support by making more apparel from this material, including hoodies, t-shirts, and jackets. Stella McCartney has been supporting Parley for the Oceans since 2014, which is why they decided to make all their products from 100% recycled materials that year. In 2016 they created a whole new line of clothing called ‘Elements,’ from this ocean plastic material. G-Star RAW also came together with Parley for the Oceans to create their own clothing collection, including three different jackets styles.

Hoodies are one of the most popular pieces in apparel because they’re great for everyday use and come in multiple colors. I think that having a hoodie made from recycled ocean plastics is a great idea because it creates less waste, is comfortable and cool at the same time. But getting a piece like this won’t be easy unless you live near an Adidas store or another company partnered with Parley for the Oceans. Since these hoodies are only available online, there will be no way to see them before buying them, and even if you do get your hands on one – they might be gone by the time you decide to purchase one.

Still, it’s a good idea to buy apparel made from recycled ocean plastic because it eliminates the use of new virgin plastic in your clothing. And I’m sure that in time you’ll be able to find a hoodie like this at an Adidas store near you.

Read more about Parley for the Oceans and how they have teamed up with these big companies here: https://www.parley.tv/news-press/all-stars-for-the-ocean #OTTZ_Worldwide!

Conclusion

The ocean is full of plastic. It’s everywhere. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the size of Texas and holds 3x more plastic than plankton. One trillion pieces of plastic are floating in the world’s oceans, killing 100 million animals annually.

Every year, trillions of tiny plastics particles end up in our food and drinking water because they come from our clothes, forks, spoons, etc.… And we’ve all seen those videos where a sea turtle has a straw stuck up its nose, or an albatross feeds her chick with a Starbucks cup lid: these would never happen if there were no plastic in the ocean!

Unfortunately, humans contribute most of these deadly pollutants, which are imposing serious threats to marine organisms. So, being a major contributor to marine pollution, our responsibility is to protect our marine environment and unique creatures.

How do we stop the plastic ocean pollution problem? The answer is simple: stop. We need to stop using single-use plastics and replace them with reusable items, like metal water bottles. Did you know that Americans throw away 2 million plastic bottles every hour? That’s enough trash to cover an area of land equivalent to Manhattan in New York City!

What are your thoughts on using recycled plastics in apparel? Let us know what you think below!

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