Did you know scientists estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by weight? That is because plastic does not biodegrade and accumulates in our oceans year on year. According to a study undertaken by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in the United Kingdom there are an estimated 150 million tons of plastic currently roaming around the globe’s waters ending up on our beaches, in the stomach of fish and birds and on the ocean floor.
Photographer: Bo Eide
If this is not bad enough the 192 countries around the world whose coastline boarders an ocean or sea, are currently leaking an estimated 8 million tons of plastic into their waters every year equivalent to one garbage truck-full every minute. “If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two truck-fulls per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050,” the same study reported, with packaging estimated to represent the largest share of the plastic pollution.
“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”
What can we do about it as single individuals?
We can start from today and cut some of the plastic we use in our daily life. The task can seem overwhelming because plastic is everywhere and pervades our existence, but by changing a few habits at a time we can have a big impact on the world around us, making it a better place for our children and their children’s children and the fauna that lives in it too.
We can start by:
1. Purchasing a recyclable coffee cup and ask the barista to fill it up every time we order a coffee. This small action will reduce our personal output of one-single use coffee cups by 500 a year.
2. Purchasing a re-usable stainless steel water bottle will reduce plastic bottle waste by an estimated 130 per person every year.
3. Using paper bags for our light grocery items and placing them in larger and stronger re-usable canvass bags will reduce single-use plastic bag usage by several thousand per person per year.
In Australia where I live it is estimated that we use 3.92billion single use plastic bags every year equivalent to over 10 million new bags every day! Australia has a population of just 24.4m imagine how many more plastic bags are used only once in larger countries and how many of them litter our world today?
It may seem futile for us single individuals to take action. We must remember however that we are not alone, there are many organisations and people around the world that are actively involved in rethinking new ways in which we live our daily lives to make a positive impact. Some have global reach and many others are local, but all are aware of the issues of the unsustainable way we live today around the planet.
In my travels I have had the opportunity to observe the behaviours and the devastation that plastic litter causes and it saddens me to see potentially beautiful and pristine environments punctuated by plastic litter, which is not only unsightly by profoundly damaging.
We all long to live in a cleaner and better world and many of us have the privilege to live in countries that are more aware and more prepared to take action than others. Nobody is perfect though and we can all make a difference.
What are you prepared to do to make sure your children and grand children enjoy the pleasure of a cleaner world? Would you rather walk on a pristine beach or on one covered by plastic waste?