It’s World Oceans Day. Let’s Quit Our Addiction to Single-Use Plastic

world oceans dayThe rate at which humans are polluting the ocean is horrifying. This World Oceans Day, let’s quit our addiction to single-use plastic once and for all.

To date, our addiction to plastic —which only began six short decades ago— has resulted in more than 8 billion metric tons of the stuff being produced.

The study that arrived at the number was conducted almost three years ago, so it’s probably escalated significantly since then.

Most people get that plastic is a major problem, but the sheer magnitude of it eludes us. Understandably so, given that many of us don’t get to see the results of our actions firsthand.

Without a visible yardstick, it’s easier to justify our indiscretions. 

We’ll use a plastic straw in our smoothie, for example, and excuse it as one small thing. Or, we’ll forget our travel mug and buy coffee anyway.

I’m not pointing this out to make you feel bad. Sporty and I are equally adept at turning a blind eye when it comes to our favourite snacks.

The thing is, these small things add up, until eventually what you’re left with is a garbage patch in the ocean that’s two times the size of Texas.

That’s a heck of a lot of plastic. 

Single-Use Plastic is Destroying Our Oceans

This video by National Geographic does a great job of explaining the history of plastic as well as the impact it’s had on the world and what we can do to make a difference. They, too, emphasize the importance of eliminating single-use plastic.

It would be bad enough if our garbage ended up only in landfills, but around 2.41 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the sea each year. The resulting impact of plastic on marine and bird life is disastrous.

A whale was found in Thailand with eighty shopping bags and other plastic debris clogging its stomach. It literally starved to death. That’s just one story out of millions.

The number of countries and cities that have banned single-use plastics is growing. It’s time for all of us to step up and do our bit. Together, we can make single-use plastic obsolete.

By properly informing ourselves, we’ll be able to view our actions as part of the collective whole, rather than standalone indiscretions that don’t make all that much of a difference.

This infographic offers an in-depth look at plastic in the ocean. Along with dispelling myths around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it shows the impact of plastic pollution on sea birds and marine life, including the harmful effects when these creatures eat plastic waste.

world oceans day

Here’s How You Can Help This World Oceans Day

If all we did was eliminate single-use plastic from our daily lives, we’d make massive inroads into the problem. Avoiding plastic is a struggle, but it can be done. Here are some hacks to reduce your single-use plastic consumption.

  1. Carry your own travel mug.
  2. Carry your own eating utensils.
  3. Bring your own cloth shopping bags.
  4. Bring your own fresh produce bags, too.
  5. Don’t use plastic straws.
  6. Carry a reusable water bottle.
  7. Buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
  8. Buy laundry detergent that comes in a box.
  9. Opt for zero waste lunches.
  10. Refuse plastic at the dry cleaner. Or skip the dry cleaner all together!
  11. Use eco-friendly shaving supplies.
  12. Buy compostable coffee pods.
  13. Avoid processed food.
  14. Use bar shampoo and soap.
  15. Light your fire with matches.
  16. Use cloth diapers instead of disposable.
  17. Ladies, make your period waste-free.
  18. Shop at package-free stores.
  19. Rethink your food storage options (just avoid the beeswax options).
  20. Make reusable bowl covers (or bribe someone to make them for you)

We all know what we need to do, now it’s time to do it. Let’s all commit to quitting our addiction to single-use plastic once and for all.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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  1. I am 100 % on board and have been for many years not taking plastic bags and other single use plastics. Im in New York and we were finally making some progress with eliminating plastics

    But then COVID came.

    Its worse now than ever.
    Eateries are not accepting bring your own mug, take out food comes in a million containers. Even now that restaurants are reopening they are using single use plates etc to deal with a reduced staff.
    I feel like the only way is to eat at home. Then I want to support local business.
    I thank you for this infograph. I will continue to do my part.

    1. Hi Joanna

      That’s tough, what’s happening over there. We had a similar situation a few years ago when the Western Cape had a severe water shortage. Suddenly, nobody was using ‘for here’ crockery and cutlery to avoid washing up.

      Eating at home is the answer, but how do you support your local eateries? Honestly, I’m not sure?

      We’re fortunate here in that a lot of eateries are making an effort to use compostable containers and brown paper bags, so that helps.

      Let’s hope this thing is over soon! Sending love from the Mother City. 🙂

      PS I’m glad you like the infographic, it’s super helpful, right?

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