New Zealand has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and if you have ever lived here, you will most likely take at least one trip to the beach this holiday season. However, we don’t usually think about the huge amount of rubbish that ends up in our beloved ocean that affects not only the wildlife but us as well.
It takes anywhere between 80-200 years for plastic to break down in the ocean and as this happens toxins released by the plastics get eaten by plankton, then fish eat the plankton, and then we eat the fish. As a result, the harmful plastic toxins come back to us. Furthermore, the wildlife not only get hurt by the plastic toxins in the ocean but they also get harmed by getting caught in the larger plastics and can’t get free.
So how much waste goes into the ocean annually?
About 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean annually.
80 % of this rubbish gets dumped into the ocean by nations and the other 20% is from ships and cruises even though there are rules against dumping in the seas. The countries that have the most trash flowing into the ocean are China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. This shows this is not just one countries problem, it’s a world-wide one that needs every nations attention and participation. We all share the ocean and all play a part in fixing the plastic waste issue. Recently, The United Nations Environmental Program stated in a report that over 143 countries have joined 18 Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans for the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environment. It is great to hear that many countries are taking small steps to fix this issue.
What can you do?
“You must be the change you want to see in the world – Gandhi
This means we all need to do our part to save the ocean and it starts today! Here are some simple things we can all do:
- Decrease your single-use plastic use.
- Use washable and reusable containers and bags for food and storage.
- Support businesses that help clean the ocean.
- Don’t support companies that have no regard for the ocean.
- Pick up rubbish near the beach, coastlines and near lakes and streams.
- Vote for your local government parties that support marine life and a cleaner environment.
- Join a marine life activist group and participate in activities like beach clean ups.
- Recycle materials properly by cleaning out and putting them in the correct recycling bins.
- Stay educated and ready to take action with regards to marine life and ocean clean up.
We encourage you to try at least three of these simple steps this holiday as you prepare and clean up for christmas. Because a cleaner ocean means a healthier environment and a healthier atmosphere for all humans and wildlife.