Did you know? Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic finds its way into our oceans. Single use plastic straws, bottles, cups and the like have devastating impacts on marine life.
Ocean Conservancy says plastics are believed to threaten at least 600 different wildlife species. One in three Leatherback Turtles, which often mistake plastic bags for edible jellyfish, have been found with plastic in their bellies. In February, a dead whale beached on Norway’s coast had 30 plastic bags in its stomach. Ninety percent of seabirds, including albatross and petrels, are now eating plastics on a regular basis. By 2050, that figure is expected to rise to 100 percent. It’s not just wildlife that’s threatened by the plastics in our seas. A growing body of evidence suggests humans are consuming plastics through the seafood we eat. The negative effects of ingesting toxic plastic and plasticizer chemicals on human health are only just beginning to be understood by medical science. It is now estimated that average European seafood consumers consume 11,000 microplastics every year. That number is stunning.
In the United States, the single biggest source of ocean plastic is litter. This litter finds its way into storm drains which empty directly into creeks and rivers and much of that litter eventually finds its way out onto beaches or into the ocean. Regular sweeping will remove litter from streets and parking lots before it can make its way into our waterways, thereby making a positive difference on the environment. At Clean Sweep, we will continue to take the environmental impact of our work very seriously.
You can help-and you can make a significant difference with a few lifestyle changes. The largest sources of ocean plastic are single use plastic bags (1 trillion discarded per year!), single use bottles and cups (500 million discarded per year!) and single use straws. (550 million discarded per year!) Stop using plastic straws, carry water and other beverages in a reusable container and carry your groceries in reusable canvas bags. These small lifestyle will cumulatively make a huge difference.
Image Courtesy of Ocean Conservancy.