Save the oceans with these little tricks!
Updated: Aug 21, 2018
Let's start with some facts:
Three billion people rely on seafood as their primary source of protein, according to the Marine Stewardship Council.
About 70% of the air we breathe is produced by marine plants, and 97% of the Earth’s water supply is contained in the oceans. They are the biggest regulator of the planet’s climate, making it a very comfy place to be for homo sapiens
In 2010, eight million tons of plastic trash ended up in the ocean from coastal countries—far more than the total that has been measured floating on the surface in the ocean's "garbage patches."
This number will be double by 2015 if we do nothing!
By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the sea, according to a joint World Economic Forum and Ellen MacCarthur Foundation report.
Another challenge that we in Europe are currently facing is that since Jan 1st, 2018, China is refusing to take our plastic waste. Since this has been our main resource for "getting rid" of our plastic waste, we are now facing the challenge of having to find a solution locally. Currently, Europe does not have the capacity or the facilities to be able to handle this, so additional investments and different solutions are needed!
I hope this is not new information for you, if you have been watching the news, you know all of this! It has been a big subject for a while now and the UN, governments and NGO's worldwide are trying to get a grip on the situation. However, they can't do it without your help!
Here is what it comes down to: we are all people AND consumers, so we have the ability to make conscious choices, good and bad! Approaching this bottom us, each one of us can make a difference. Yes, that means you too!
Here are some simple principles you can use to make that difference:
1. Don’t use disposable plastic, and avoid plastic packaging
Around 50% of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced every year is used just once, then thrown away.
Each of the 500 billion plastic bags used worldwide annually has a working life of only 15 minutes.
Plastic containers alone account for 14% of all litter. It takes 0.25 of a litre of oil and six litres of water to produce a one-litre plastic bottle.
What can you do about this?
Choose paper or glass containers over plastic packaging when possible. Use your own refillable water bottle, bring your own cup, use reusable shopping and produce bags, refuse straws and plastic cutlery. These are all relatively simple actions to implement!
2. Produce less waste
While plastics are the most common man-made objects found in the sea, almost all of your rubbish ends up in the ocean – six million tonnes a year, which is about the same as a million elephants!
Like I have stated in previous posts already and will keep repeating: we are buying too much stuff and can consume far less. Reuse and recycle!
Repair things rather than discarding items without thinking. It might take a bit more time, but you will feel so much better for it! And you have a unique piece of whatever it is, you gave a second, third or fourth life! After I repaired one of my favourite jeans, it made me feel so good!
We need to challenge ourselves more often of the amount of stuff we buy. If we are completely honest with ourselves: we don't really need 10 pairs of sneakers, 25 handbags, 3 tv's, the latest PlayStation or whatever your vice is. Deep down you know this however, we live in a society where we are overexposed to the latest hype that will make us feel better, happier, sexier, more popular, thinner, prettier,... but it's not true!
Not only is it better for the environment to buy less, it is also good for your bank account and your mental health. In the end, it's not material things that make us happy, that bring fulfilment, it is connection!
3. Eat less fish (and meat) The oceans are overfished, and according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), 32% of the world’s fish stocks are exploited beyond their sustainable limits (see chart below).
Up to 90% of all large predatory fish such as cod, sharks, halibut, swordfish, marlin, grouper and tuna have been depleted.
The solution? Eat less seafood and fish.
When you do eat it, choose sustainably caught or farmed varieties. Organisations such as the Marine Stewardship Council, Seafood Watch, the WWF, and others provide useful consumer guides on what to buy.
I would add to this to reduce your meat consumption. This is worth an entirely separate blog however, it is better for your health and the environment to limit your meat consumption. This will start reducing production and in turn reduce methane release (a greenhouse gas more damaging in the short term than CO2) and reduce surface water pollution and in turn rivers and oceans.
It is not rocket science, nor is it very complicated. It just requires some awareness and making some conscious choices that benefit you, the environment and the next generations to come!