The tide of environmental studies that show the harmful effects of litter and mismanaged waste on oceans is rising. For example, 8 million metric tons of plastics wind up in streams, rivers and waterways each year, and plastic product consumption is predicted to double over the next 10 years.
With the health of the oceans closely tied to the health of the environment, marine life and humans, making choices that reduce ocean pollution is one way to make an impact. In fact, more than six in 10 people refuse plastic shopping bags, avoid pre-packed fruit and vegetables, pick up litter and avoid buying water in plastic bottles.
Want to make a difference? Here are five ways to get started:
1. Think about the packaging you choose. When making a purchase, consider alternatives to plastic like glass or other natural and sustainable packaging. Glass, for example, is made mostly from sand and recycled glass, is reusable, 100% and endlessly recyclable and does not harm oceans or marine life.
2. Choose reusable containers. Disposable containers are a thing of the past. Make reusable containers for food and beverages a family staple, especially as a replacement for bottled water whether at home or on-the-go. A million plastic bottles are bought per minute – and only 9% are recycled. Rather than plastic, choose glass or stainless steel, which can hold hot or cold food and beverages and help protect what’s inside from any chemicals.
3. Reduce your single-use footprint. Whenever possible, bring reusable bags and containers to the store. Some foods like cereal, pasta and rice can be purchased from bulk bins and placed in a glass or stainless-steel storage container ready for your shelf. To further cut down on plastic waste, switch to reusable straws, which are available in glass, stainless steel and even bamboo.
4. Recycle better. Learn what you can and can’t recycle in your community. Certain items like disposable cups, greasy pizza boxes, non-recyclable plastic containers (like those for yogurt) and take-out containers can contaminate entire batches of recycling. About 91% of plastic is not recycled and can linger in the environment for hundreds of years, contributing to ocean pollution. Glass containers are always 100% and endlessly recyclable; steel and aluminum cans and cardboard are also easily recyclable.
5. Be part of the action. Volunteer or donate to help keep local beaches, parks, and waterways clean. International and national groups with local chapters are also ways to participate in a local cleanup. Or, get involved in the Ocean Conservancy’s global “Trash Free Seas” campaign to help end ocean litter and pollution.
Find out more about the benefits of choosing and reusing glass packaging to help reduce ocean pollution.