Bottles, bags, lids, straws… You name it and guarantee it can be found floating in our once pristine oceans. These items we mindlessly use on a daily basis are finding their way into our oceans and waterways at an alarming rate. Ocean waste is a huge problem around the world and it’s our marine life that are copping the effects. A study from Plymouth University found that plastic pollution affects at least 700 marine species, and at least 100 million marine mammals are killed each year from plastic pollution.
These 5 wonderful animals are in grave danger due to the staggeringly wasteful human consumption of plastic and poor waste management.
- Sea Turtles
Plastic bags do look tasty to an unsuspecting turtle but the significant amounts of plastic consumed by more than 50% of our sea turtle population has lasting effects. The population is in rapid decline due to straws getting stuck in noses, constricting airflow, and blockages in their digestive tracts.
Sadly, nearly every seabird on earth consumes plastic. With the abundance of plastic flowing into the oceans, hungry seabirds are mistakenly gobbling up garbage and feeding it to their young, causing major problems for their health and nutrient intake. A recent study found a 67% decline in seabird populations between 1950 and 2010. Alarmingly, if something major isn’t done about ocean plastic soon, our Seabirds are looking at extinction.
- Seals and sea lions
When fishing nets and ocean waste gets entangled on our beloved sea animals, they get into real strife. Seals and dolphins get tangled in debris and this impairs their ability to swim, hunt for food, escape predators, digest nutrients and reproduce. Ingesting plastic that looks like a food source causes serious digestion and toxicity problems for our loveable sea mammals.
That facewash you are using could be doing more damage than you think. Scientists have found that fish are becoming toxic due to their ingesting of tiny microbeads. Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic found in face washes and cosmetics. They enter the waterways and cause harm to a fish’s digestive tracts and are full of toxic chemicals. This isn’t good news for our planet’s fish population – or for fish lovers as a menu item.
These majestic creatures are truly a sight to behold. Blue whales are the largest animals that ever lived and can grow up to 90 feet and weigh as much as 24 elephants! Some whales, like killer whales can live as long as 100 years. Recently more and more whales have been washing ashore and vomiting up a belly of plastic garbage. Ocean plastic looks like a tasty school of fish to a whale. If we don’t change our plastic ways soon, these majestic creatures will be a much rarer sight roaming our seas.
Here are 5 simple habits which you can get into which will dramatically reduce plastics polutions, after all every bag, straw and bottle makes a difference!
- Refuse plastic straws. Pick up your drink and drink from the cup! Or use a bamboo, glass or metal straw.
- Use a reusable produce bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your own reusable produce bag.
- Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic. Terrifying, right? We’ll have the sticky on this soon in an upcoming piece.
- Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You’ll also save money and unnecessary packaging, that’s a win/win!
- Bring your own container for take-out or your restaurant doggy-bag since many restaurants use styrofoam.
These habits are easy to get into with a little planning, and really, you’ll see that the kids catch on faster than we do! Start by setting a good example.
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