There’s a lot of plastic going into the ocean each year — over 8 million tons of plastic, to be precise. That’s an inconceivable amount of plastic. Thankfully, with just a few simple actions, you can do your part to keep our oceans plastic-free. Ready to learn how?
1. Reduce your plastic consumption.
From bags to straws to takeout containers, single-use plastic is everywhere. And that’s a lot of what ends up making its way into our oceans. Unfortunately, throwing things away doesn’t always work. There’s no such thing as “away” — there are only other places on our planet. Everything here is connected, and our systems aren’t perfect. Trash can easily fall out of a garbage can, off a garbage truck or blow out of a landfill, slowly make its way into a stream or river, and eventually the ocean. So it’s better to avoid the plastic in the first place.
Plastic bags, water bottles, plastic utensils, straws and cups are all commonly found in beach cleanups, and they can all be avoided pretty easily. Simply get used to carrying a reusable tote, a water bottle, a thermos or jar, and a pack of reusable utensils with a straw in it. Stashing some of these in your car makes them even harder to forget. One of our favorite shops to support is United by Blue, which sells a variety of reusable bottles, mugs, and straws — and with every purchase, they commit to getting one pound of trash removed from our waterways!
2. Recycle your plastics.
Another way to keep plastics out of the ocean is to make sure they get recycled. This only works, of course, for the plastic items accepted for recycling in your area. Check your city or county website for your local recycling information, or Google “[city name] recycling rules.” Tossing items in your recycling that aren’t accepted in your local program doesn’t help the process, so make sure you check first.
Once your plastics are recycled, they become a valuable resource that can be used to create new products. Over time, recycling reduces the amount of oil that gets turned into new plastics, which, paired with these other tactics, can help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean.
3. Be extra careful with lightweight plastics.
Do you remember that scene from American Beauty where the plastic bag is blowing in circles around the sidewalk? Or have you ever seen a plastic bag caught in a tree?
Lightweight plastics include plastic bags, styrofoam, straws, cups & lids, plastic bottles, or any lightweight plastic on a windy day. If you aren’t recycling them, these should be securely bagged in your trash, and firmly held onto during nature hikes and beach days. Otherwise they can quickly blow away and out of reach, becoming instant litter.
4. Get involved in the fight against unnecessary plastic.
An individual can make a difference on their own, but corporations and governments can make an ever bigger difference. Try leaning on corporations that create a lot of plastic, such as Coca-Cola, and ask them to stop using plastic in their products. Whether it’s a letter, phone call, email, tweet or petition, use your voice to send a message.
You can also ask companies to use more recycled plastic in their packaging, or more durable plastic, like the reusable containers Loop uses. Even better, start using your money to support greener companies and products.
Local coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores are other common sources of single-use plastic. Ask your local favorites to stop using styrofoam and plastic takeout containers, and to provide a discount for customers that bring reusable mugs, thermoses or bags.
Last but not least, support local government policy around single-use plastic bans. If it’s no longer an option, it will no longer be a threat to the health of our water.
5. Volunteer some time.
Every year on the third Saturday in September is National CleanUp Day, an event that promotes and coordinates cleanup events all across the United States. Additionally, many communities host cleanup events more frequently for popular, well-loved parks, lakes, beaches and waterways. Mark your calendars and get some friends together the next time there’s a cleanup happening in your community, or go rogue and host your own!
Help Us Create a More Sustainable World
At Skyewater Photo + Film, we’ve made a commitment to support programs and nonprofits around the world who are working hard to clean waterways, reduce plastic waste, and improve the global water crisis. Learn more about our donation program, or explore more ways you can get involved and help us make a difference.