The headlines in the news are not good. The news headlines are grim. A male pilot whale is killed by 80 plastic bags on a Thai shore. Images of turtles trapped in six-pack plastic rings go viral. A sad picture of a small seahorse holding onto a plastic earbud has gone viral. Every day, plastic products are found on beaches all over the world. The world is starting to notice and governments, the private sector, and communities are taking action.
The world is starting to notice and governments, the private sector, and communities are taking action. Investments in garbage collection and regulations that decrease plastic packaging are replacing bans and charges on single-use plastics. Beach clean-ups are also possible. Beach clean-ups are also possible.
Since 2000, the World Bank has invested over $4.5 billion in improving over 300 solid waste management projects to minimize pollution, particularly plastics. Plastic pollution hotspot assessments are being used by the Bank to assist prioritize investments and uncover quick wins in the ocean.
It will take more than just building better solid waste management systems. To solve this problem, everyone must be involved and each individual action counts. Below are the five actions you can do RIGHT NOW to help stop the spread of plastic pollution.
1) Say no to polythene bags
Plastic bags are used daily by approximately 1 million people. A single bag can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. In order to discourage plastic bags, many countries and cities have been banning them or imposing levies and taxes over the past two decades. Although these actions have not been without controversy, say no to polythene bags and bring your own reusable bag to the grocery store. They’re not the nylon or polyester type, they’re made of plastic. You can choose cotton bags instead.
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2) Make your own water bottles
Did you know that plastic bottles are now bought by humans at an average rate of one million per minute? And that the majority of plastic that isn’t recycled is used up in landfills? What number of plastic bottles did you purchase this week? This is an easy win: bottle your own water. You can keep a couple of recyclable bottles in your bag. Keep one on your desk, and a second in your bag. One mug is for hot drinks; the other a tumbler/glass to hold cold beverages. Plastic bottles, which are typically constructed of polyethylene terephthalate (Pet), take over 400 years to decompose naturally.
3) Avoid plastic straws
Plastic straws are a top item of marine plastics around the globe, and they’re not recyclable. Customers can use their voices at cafes, restaurants, and other eateries to reject straws and plastic stirrers. Support a shift towards paper straws like McDonald’s and Starbucks, or quit using straws altogether. Carry your own straws if you don’t want to use them. You can now find metal and bamboo straws.
4) Avoid plastic cutlery
Take-out orders? Order take-out? Catering events? Reusable cutlery and plates, cups, and cutlery are best. France was the first country in the world to adopt a law banning plastic plates, cups, and cutlery by 2020. This will encourage innovation in biodegradable products. You can shop around and find out what other countries are doing to encourage ocean-friendly practices.
5) Make Better Home Choices
Choose products that are made with less plastic packaging to make green choices at home. Avoid the throwaway culture. Avoid personal hygiene products and cosmetics that contain microbeads. Microbeads are a type of microplastic. They can be found in toothpaste and skin scrubs. Recent research has shown that microbeads are causing increasing damage to marine life. This could lead to harm to human health. Before you buy clothing made with synthetic microfibers, make sure to shop around. These microfibers can be released into the water when they are washed. They may end up in the oceans and then become food for fish and other marine animals.
These five simple actions, although not difficult, can change the way we view plastic. Let’s all use our voices and change our behavior to stop the tide of plastic pollution. Perhaps then, we will read stories about happy turtles and pristine beaches.