Did you know that 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste are estimated to be in our oceans? About 70 percent of that waste goes into the ocean's ecosystem, another 15 percent floats, and the final 15 percent ends up on the beaches.
Ocean pollution is a global problem, and it's essential to address it. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do from home to help clean the ocean.
Keep reading to learn how you can do your part to help with keeping our oceans clean.
One: Reduce Plastic Use
The US is the world's biggest plastic polluter.
Some US states are taking steps to reduce this. For example, you have to pay for your grocery bags in Oregon if you don't bring your own. In addition, you must ask for a straw at restaurants; they can't automatically give you one.
However, it's still not enough. Everyone needs to play their part.
Even if you recycle, there's a risk of plastic waste making its way to the waterways and ultimately into the ocean. You can help by reducing your personal plastic use.
Imagine this: you go to the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread. That loaf of bread is placed in a plastic bag you carry home. You then put that plastic bag in your garbage can.
When the sanitation worker picks up your trash, that bag flies out. It is then carried to a nearby river. With the help of storms, wind, and other factors, your plastic bag is eventually dumped into the ocean and becomes marine litter.
Reducing your personal use of disposable plastic products can help decrease the risk. Next time you head to the store, take reusable bags. Carry reusable straws, and ask for no plastic silverware if you don't need it.
Two: Leave Nothing Behind
Living in the US, there's tons of land available for public use. However, not all of that land comes with trashcans.
If you go out and enjoy nature, leave it the way, you found it. Take a biodegradable trash bag with you and leave no trace.
It's also a good idea to take gloves on your excursion. If you find that someone wasn't as courteous, you can clean up what they left behind.
Three: Watch What You Flush
If you're looking for something you can do without even leaving your home, watch what you flush. In the past, medications have been found in groundwater and marine life.
Flushing cotton balls, floss, cat litter, insecticides, medications, paint, vegetable oil, and other items can harm marine life.
Read the label before you decide to dump something down a drain or in your toilet. Make sure it's safe, and find out if there's a better way to dispose of it.
Four: Vote on Ocean Issues
Are there ocean issues coming up in your next election? Take the time to educate yourself on what the ocean issue is, then make sure to hit the polls on election day.
Widespread changes need to get made. While there are things you can do at home that will help, ultimately, changes need to be made through legislation that protects our waterways.
Beyond voting on ocean issues, take the time to reach out to your elected officials. Write letters and contact local environmental clubs if your state isn't doing enough.
Help push for the change you want to see. In addition, if your state recognizes the need for legislation that protects the ocean, ask about volunteering. You can help raise awareness of upcoming ocean issues by volunteering for politicians who support them.
Various organizations are invested in making sure that our oceans are healthy. Donating to those organizations or purchasing an item helps support their work.
Many people don't donate to charities because they feel they don't have the money. However, every penny counts.
Skip a cup of coffee and donate that five dollars to protect ocean wildlife.
Six: Volunteer Your Time
Even if you don't have the money to donate, time is valuable. There are many ways you can volunteer your time to help with cleaning the ocean.
Go out and pick up litter that you find. You can do this with groups that clean up the neighborhoods and beaches.
If you can't find a group, create one. Or, you can do it on your own. Just be sure to take gloves and a reach and grab or debris grabber.
Keep in mind: there are some items you should not pick up. Stay safe and review safety guidelines before going out to pick up litter.
Seven: Raise Awareness
Another significant way you can help is by raising awareness. You can do this in a variety of ways:
- Wear a shirt that raises awareness
- Educate your local community
- Host fundraisers
- Post ocean cleaning tips on social media
Cleaning the ocean will take more than one person putting in the effort. Raising awareness helps get others involved. There is power in numbers, and numbers are gained through education and awareness.
Not everyone will be as passionate as you; however, everyone can do their part in little ways.
Start Your Journey to Clean the Ocean
You can do many things to help clean the ocean, even if you don't live near a beach. Going out and picking up litter, reducing your plastic use, raising awareness, donating, watching what you flush, leaving nothing behind, and voting on ocean issues are great ways to get started.
Has our ocean cleaning guide inspired you to raise awareness? Let your style speak for you. Support Everything Manatee by shopping with us and helping us continue supporting wildlife conservation efforts.