Another beautifully lost dreamer with an incurable case of wanderlust.

A Plastic Ocean

This may sound silly, but I believe I’ve found one of my life ‘callings’. I’m volunteering for a couple of amazing non-profit marine conservation organisations; learning heaps about plastic pollution and how it’s affecting our Ocean. I’m really enjoying being a part of an incredible team of people who have a passion for protecting the planet and feel inspired to make a positive impact on the world.

I recently attended a showing of a documentary by the Plastic Oceans Foundation, called ‘A Plastic Ocean’ that was hosted by Sea Shepherd in Byron Bay. It’s an incredible film and does a fantastic job educating us about the issue of plastic pollution all over the world. It’s really informative and quite hard hitting in places; definitely the reality check we all need to help us break the cycle in using ‘convenient’ single use plastics.

Did you know that by 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish?

So what even are microplastics and why should we care about them?

When plastic gets into the ocean, it slowly breaks up into microplastics. These microplastics are generally under 5mm and cause a number of problems. They harm marine life and seabirds; the animals can become harmed physically by these plastics or ingest the plastics, mistaking it for food. Ingested plastic in an animal is dangerous as it can affect buoyancy and cause death by literally having a belly full of plastic and blocking their intestines. Species higher in the food chain can also have these plastics in their body by eating those that already have accumulated plastic. That includes us.

Just a handful of some of the microplastics picked up in Lennox Head, NSW.

What counts as a single use plastic and what can I use instead of them?

The single use ‘big 4’ are plastic bags, plastic bottles, straws and take away coffee cups. Take a moment to reflect on your past week and count up how many of these things you have used. Did you know, the average Australian uses 170 plastic bags every year. 150 million of these end up as litter, only 3% are currently being recycled. Worldwide, about 2 million plastic bags are used every single minute. It’s a shocking insight into our throwaway society. Think of how long each of these single use plastics are used for. Maybe 15 minutes? ‘Trash Travels’ estimates that plastic bags can take 20 years to decompose, plastic bottles up to 450 years, and fishing line, 600 years; but in fact, no one really knows how long plastics will remain in the ocean. These staggering figures can be reduced by thinking ahead and using products such as a metal water bottle, metal straws, glass mason jars, a reusable coffee mug, canvas shopping bags and bamboo toothbrushes. Just a simple change in your daily routine can help reduce your plastic footprint.

What else can I do to help?

Think Take 3. If we use this clean beach initiative and take 3 pieces of litter from any waterway that we explore, that’s 3 less bits of rubbish that end up in the Ocean. If you can pick up more than 3, go for it! All around the world you will find local beach clean-ups to get involved with. If you’re ever diving, surfing or swimming and you see litter in the water, just take it with you. If you see an distressed animal affected by human debris, remove it for them. If they could thank you, I’m sure they would!

This rubbish was picked up by a team of 11, on a 100m stretch of beach in the space of an hour.

The ocean covers 70% of the world’s surface. All life on Earth is connected to the Ocean and its inhabitant. The Oceans generate half of the oxygen that we, as humans, breathe. The Ocean does so much for us and I feel a strong desire to do my part to help protect our planet. If we all are just a little bit more mindful, caring and organised, we can each make a huge difference.

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