Surfrider Foundation Australia is a not for profit sea-roots organisation dedicated to the protection of Australia’s waves and beaches through conservation, activism, research and education.
Amongst other campaigns, Surfrider are currently campaigning to promote awareness about plastics and what they are doing to our world. Here are a few chilling facts from the Surfrider website:
- Most plastic pollution at sea starts out on land as litter on beaches, streets and footpaths. Rain or overwatering flushes that litter through a storm drain system or directly to creeks, streams and rivers that lead to the ocean. After plastics enter the marine environment they slowly photodegrade into smaller pieces that marine life can mistake for food, sometimes with fatal results.
- Ocean gyres concentrate plastic pollution in five main areas of the world’s ocean and various research groups are bringing back alarming data documenting plastics impacts.
- The amount of plastic produced from 2000 – 2010 exceeds the amount produced during the entire last century.
- Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.
- An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine litter.
- Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.
- Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.
- In 2009 about 3.8 million tons of waste plastic “bags, sacks and wraps” were generated in the United States alone, but only 9.4% of this total was recycled.
- Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead break down into small particles that persist in the ocean, absorb toxins, and enter our food chain through fish, sea birds and other marine life.
- Plastic bags are problematic in the litter stream because they float easily in the air and water, traveling long distances and never fully breaking down in water.
- Cleanup of plastic bags is costly. for example California spends $25 million annually to landfill discarded plastic bags, and public agencies spend more than $300 million annually in litter cleanup.
- It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the country.
RISE ABOVE PLASTICS
Here are ten easy things you can do to reduce your ‘plastic footprint’ and help keep plastics out of the marine environment:
- Choose to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water. Cloth bags and metal or glass reusable bottles are available locally at great prices.
- Refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other ‘disposable’ plastics. Carry reusable utensils in your purse, backpack or car to use at bbq’s, potlucks or take-out restaurants.
- Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag/box that includes a thermos.
- Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants that let you use them. A great way to reduce lids, plastic cups and/or plastic-lined cups.
- Go digital! No need for plastic cds, dvds and jewel cases when you can buy your music and videos online.
- Seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on.
- Recycle. If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics. Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates.
- Volunteer at a beach cleanup. Surfrider Foundation Chapters often hold cleanups monthly or more frequently.
- Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling.
- Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to Rise Above Plastics!
And from me, a reminder to you all, although the sentiment is a lovely one, please don’t release helium balloons into the air – they end up in our oceans, where turtles and other marine life think they are jellyfish, and get sick and or die from ingesting the rubber. 10% of all The Silver Forge Sales for this mnth will be donated to this very worthy cause. (And for goodness’ sake, if you smoke, bin your butts!!)