The vast increase in waste and pollution around the globe is having a devastating impact on the environment. But this isn’t just a problem on land – our oceans are sadly suffering too.
More than 80% of marine pollution is reported to come from land-based activities. And, due to this, marine creatures are facing threats to their health and habitats, resulting in many reaching vulnerable or endangered status.
One of the biggest issues of ocean pollution is plastic. In 2010, an astonishing 215 million metric tonnes of plastic ended up in the ocean, with each square mile of the ocean estimated to have more than 45,000 pieces of plastic floating in it. Plastic is severely harmful to marine creatures of all shapes and sizes – many mistake floating bits of it for food or get tangled in it.
Due to the scale of the problem, it can be difficult to know where to start in order to reduce ocean pollution. After all, it’s hard to escape plastic in our everyday lives.
But there are many small steps you can make to take better care of oceans around the world.
Cut Down on Plastics
We can all do our bit when it comes to cutting down the amount of plastic we use each day. Swapping up our daily routine and thinking carefully before we buy can have a positive impact on the battle with plastic pollution.
Shockingly, plastic can take more than 400 years to degrade, whilst cardboard takes just two weeks and newspaper six weeks. During the decay process, plastic can release harmful chemicals into the ocean, which not only pollutes the water but can also poison marine life.
Here are a few of the things you can do to cut down on plastics:
- Always carry a reusable bag for shopping, so that you don’t need to buy a plastic carrier bag each time
- Buy yourself a reusable drinks bottle – metal and glass bottles are among the best alternatives
- Try to look for food wrapped in cardboard or foil instead of plastic film – or purchase loose foods where possible (such as fruit and vegetables)
- Prepare your own lunch each day in a reusable sandwich box to avoid the wrapping of prepackaged meals from supermarkets and stores
- Avoid using straws at home or in restaurants
Recycle Your Waste
As well as reducing your plastic usage, it’s important to recycle any and every bit of waste that you can. You local council will run regular recycling collections (weekly or fortnightly depending on your area). It’s important to check with them what materials you are able to recycle.
The most widely recycled types of waste include…
- Newspapers, magazines, and catalogues
- Cardboard boxes, cartons, and toilet roll tubes
- Fliers, envelopes, and greeting cards
Other recyclable waste includes…
- Plastic milk bottles, drinks bottles, and toiletry bottles
- Glass jars or bottles
- Food tins and drinks cans
- Aerosol cans
- Foil trays and tin foil
- Food and garden waste – this always goes in a separate recycling container or bin
If you’re out and about it can be hard to find relevant recycling bins. Where possible, always look for the right bin to dispose of your rubbish, or save it to recycle when you get home. And make sure you dispose of your rubbish responsibly, rather than littering. A lot of the waste that ends up in the ocean is a result of everyday street-littering.
Participate in Beach Cleanups
If you live close to the coast, look out for a local beach cleanup or even set up your own. You can find beach cleanups in your area by searching on the MCS UK (Marine Conservation Society) website. Be careful if you’re taking part in a cleanup, though – be sure to wear gloves and consider carrying separate bags for recyclable and non-recyclable waste.
Choose Safe and Sustainable Seafood
Overfishing is another problem in our oceans. Many fish and other marine creatures are suffering over-demand, resulting in species numbers dramatically dropping. When you’re shopping or dining out, look out for MSC-certified fish; this badge means the fish are sustainable and have been caught by responsible fishmongers.
Help Make a Difference
Whether you just make small changes to your lifestyle or you endeavour to make big ones, our actions can all impact the state of the oceans and the marine life around the world. At Bristol Aquarium we take conservation and environmental issues very seriously, constantly monitoring our energy levels and our waste policy to encourage sustainability. Our fish and creatures have all come to be housed in our aquarium through ecologically responsible sources, and no harm has been done to the natural world in bringing them here.
Fancy finding out more about the creatures that live in our oceans? Visit our aquarium for daily talks and feeds, as well as educational programmes for children and schools.