photo by Clark Little used by permission
Surfers spend a lot of time in and around the ocean and are often referred to as “guardians of the sea”. But whether you are a surfer or not, we are all sustainable guardians of the planet and we truly need to keep our oceans safe, healthy and our cherished ocean beings thriving!
Pla-stuck and Ocean Pollution
Plastic is relatively cheap to produce, versatile and above all durable to the point of near indestructibility. Unfortunately it is this durability that makes plastic completely unsuited for disposable items.
Plastic pollution as referred to in this article is the result of single-use plastics that are discarded and enter the ocean. Single-use plastic items include but are not limited to : juice containers, packaging, sandwich bags, milk jugs, disposable utensils, soda/water bottles, cold cups, straws, drink lids, and plastic bags to name a few.
Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic. Sea turtles think plastic bags are jellyfish, their primary food source. There are economical health and health issues too; disposable plastic bags for example cost up to 17 cents per bag for disposal and the material used to make many single use plastic items are made from toxic substances that leach into your drinks and food.
Why not call it marine debris? The term “marine debris” is overused, unclear, and at times ineffective. Let’s call it what it is, plastic pollution.
What about recycling? Recycling is a positive step, and recycling drives raise awareness and funds for schools and non profits, but it is not a truly sustainable solution for the long run.
Have you ever seen a recycling bin full and over flowing? Plastic bags and bottles flying and falling out of the bins easily find their way into the ocean especially on an island. The problem of single use plastic pollution is not a simple matter of more bins or sites.
Recycled plastics are land based, often washed out to sea (especially on an island) or they are expensively exported to other countries where they are land based and are often washed out to sea.
What about doing ocean clean ups? Even if all the boats in the world were somehow able, a cleanup in the ocean would not only remove plastic but also plankton, which is the base of the food chain, and is responsible for capturing half of the CO2 of our atmosphere and generating half of the oxygen we need to breathe.
And even if that were to magically happen it would only be ‘a drop in the ocean’ compared to the amount of plastic pollution that flows into the ocean every single day.
This isn’t to say that helping clean up plastic debris from your local beach or parks is not a worthwhile thing to do. By participating in beach cleanups you are helping to bring about important awareness of a serious problem.
Solutions – Doing our part in Hawaii
Sustainable-Very simply put, the responsible treatment of natural resources.
Solutions-There are literally 100’s of solutions, you can visit our web site: www.becausewesurf.com for more sustainable ideas and simple things we can do. We will be adding many more sustainable solutions on this blog, sign up on the top right to receive updates. Here are some to start with…
Never, ever, ever litter- Be respectful and leave nothing but footprints on the beach and valleys. We are on very small islands with finite resources, please don’t litter and report those that do.
Plastic bags are one of the worst and most unnecessary plastic polluters of the ocean and the easiest to replace. Carry and shop with reusable sustainable bags. A single reusable bag can eliminate hundreds to thousands of disposable bags over its lifetime. Look for reusable bags that are made out of strong sustainable material (not plastic), if the seller doesn’t know what the material is, go somewhere else, thrift stores, local health food stores, farmers markets and craft fairs are a good source or make your own. $$Bonus$$ many stores now give small discounts for bringing your own bag.
Write to email@example.com if you can’t afford a reusable bag and we will send you one -100% FREE!
Plastic bottles- Plastic bottles along with plastic bags are the most common sources of plastic pollution found on our beaches and in the ocean. In the US alone, eight out of 10 (22 billion) plastic bottles will end up in a landfill-Container Recycling Institute.
The easiest solution is to carry reusable stainless steel water bottles and flasks and drink tap water!! HELLLLOOOO PEEPS!!! It’s clean, safe and you already paid for it!! The Hawaii Board of Supply (www.hbws.org) states on their site: “The municipal water supply served to Oahu’s residents is safe to drink and use, and does not require treatment by a home filtration unit.” If you are still concerned you can easily purchase filtration systems from almost any super market, Longs, etc. Buying soda and juice containers made from glass helps also.
Cartoon used with Permission all rights reserved Steve Greenberg (greenbergart.com) is an editorial cartoonist & news artist.