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The Ocean - Marine Debris

Importance

The ocean is our life support system— it provides vital sources of protein, energy, and minerals, creates approximately half our oxygen, drives weather systems and natural flows of energy and nutrients around the world, transports water masses many times greater than all the rivers on land combined, and keeps the Earth habitable.

The ocean is also home to the greatest diversity of major plant, animal, and microbial groups on Earth and supports the life of nearly 50 percent of all species on Earth.

Threats

The ocean and the marine life that calls it home is in real trouble.

Marine debris is one of the most widespread pollution threats facing our ocean. The impacts are clear and dramatic - dead and injured wildlife, littered beaches that discourage tourism, choked ocean ecosystems, and a potentially toxic food chain.

Just in the North Pacific alone, more than a million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals, and countless fish die each year, either from mistakenly eating plastic pollution or from being caught in it and drowning. Some are fortunate enough to survive, but don't go without wounds, scars or even deformities from the debris.

Every bit of plastic ever made still exists, with very few exceptions; only 3-5% is recycled and a small amount is incinerated. Eighty percent of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is plastic bags, bottles and various other consumer products (the source = land). With no place to go as it does not biodegrade, the plastic continues to break up into millions of tiny pieces, harming killing countless species.

Global Solutions

The debris that is accumulating in our marine environments worldwide is preventable by improving waste reduction, waste management, and recycling initiatives. It can also be reduced by boosting public awareness and proposing an array of economic incentives and smart market mechanisms that tip the balance in favor of recycling, reducing, or reuse rather than dumping into the sea.

Simple Solutions At Home

Marine debris doesn't just fall from the sky, it falls from human hands. We can all make a difference by making simple changes to our lives.

Here are ways you can make an impact:

  1. Volunteer for the International Coastal Cleanup - Mark your calendars now for the 26th annual Coastal Cleanup, Saturday, September 17, 2011 and sign up for updates about events in your area. Last year, nearly 400,000 volunteers collected more than 6.8 million pounds of trash in 104 countries and 42 U.S. states during the 2008 cleanup - the world's largest volunteer effort of its kind.
  2. Take your commitment year-round - don't litter, and pick up litter you see. Keep the ocean clean, and save the life of a marine mammal or bird.
  3. Decrease your use of plastics – each person uses 185 pounds of single-use plastic a year.
  4. Use reusable cloth bags for groceries and shopping instead of disposable plastic bags (including mesh bags for produce).
  5. Use reusable beverage containers.
  6. Bring reusable or biodegradable food packaging to work or on day trips rather than using styrofoam or plastic containers.
  7. Encourage research that explores how to create biodegradable plastics.
  8. Use products that are created from recycle-able plastics. Starch and corn-based plastics can also be used, and are biodegradable.

About Ocean Conservancy:

Ocean Conservancy has worked for more than three decades toward its goal of a wild, healthy ocean. OC promotes healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems and opposes practices that threaten ocean life and human life. Through research, education, and science-based advocacy, Ocean Conservancy informs, inspires, and empowers people to speak and act on behalf of the oceans. We feel confident that our donation to Ocean Conservancy will positively contribute to the fight for a thriving, healthy ocean…one with little or no marine debris.

Ocean Conservancy Donations To Date $286.45

Total Letters For A Cause Donations $4474.54

Raise further awareness by adding an embroidery phrase to your clothing

  • For A Cleaner Ocean
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...For The Ocean
  • Ocean Conservation
  • End Marine Pollution
  • Letters For A Cause

Resources

Click Here to learn more about Ocean Conservancy