There is no doubt that plastics are prolific in our oceans and being eaten by sea life, which can kill them. This includes plankton, which produces 70% of the world’s oxygen. If the oceans die, humans will have to remove fish from our diet and add oxygen to their utility bills. (Oxygen can be derived from water. I suppose the hydrogen that is created could be used for clean fuel.) Do we want to go there?
A plethora of ocean organizations is working on cleaner oceans, which is good and bad news. Mostly great, but it makes it difficult to know which are best to support, and one wonders whether fewer larger organizations would be more effective. Some do work together on particular issues. The Ocean Conservancy formed the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, which brings together leaders from industry, conservation, and academia to brainstorm on trash reduction in the oceans.
Recent research by the same Ocean Conservancy produced a report that includes statistics on the source of ocean plastic as well as the amount. I am curious about how they can distinguish between waste that has been collected and dumped in the ocean and waste that wanders in from rivers and streams as well as between the countries of origin when our country has shipped waste to Asia. Certainly the point that waste needs to be collected and that costs money— not necessarily available in all countries—means funds must be found.
Ocean Conservancy believes that a number of steps should be utilized to solve the problem.
* Provide financing so that all plastic waste is collected, possibly a fee on manufacturers of plastic goods.
*Ban single use plastic such as plastic grocery bags, plastic straws and stirrers, plastic cups and lids, plastic cutlery, foam food containers, and more.
*Increase demand for recycled plastic, which can also reduce the cost of collection.
I’d like to add containing litter. It astounds me to go hiking in a peaceful nature park and find plastic bottles and cups lying by the pathway or a stream, even when trashcans are available along the way. If one loves nature, why sully it? I can’t imagine anyone throws waste on their living room floor.
Enough preaching. I need to take heart from organizations like the Ocean Conservancy.