Written for The Ocean Legacy Foundation by Erich Lawson
Marine trash is becoming a major problem around the globe, poisoning our oceans and throwing their natural ecosystems out of balance. Toxic chemicals, crude oil and plastic are particularly dangerous, breaking down into small particles that are swallowed by fish, birds and marine mammals, causing reproductive failure, cancer and even death.
There’s millions of tons of ocean trash already in the water, and this waste stream is no joke. If you think it doesn’t affect you, consider what happens when you eat seafood!
Top Causes of Ocean Contamination
The main sources of marine pollution include:
•Nonsource pollution, i.e. land runoff entering waterways due to soil erosion, floods, rain, melting ice, etc.
•Plastic waste and litter swept into oceans by wind or water systems, or through overboard dumping.
•Flow of sewage and other pollutants from drains, rivers and sewer systems. •Fertilizers, chemicals and other agricultural/industrial waste.
•Oil spills from ships transporting crude oil and other by-products. •Damage from deep-sea mining, e.g. oil spills, leaks and corrosion. •Ecosystem disruptions caused by climate change, over-fishing, etc.
How Can You Help in the Fight against Ocean Contamination?
If you want to help prevent coastal pollution and ocean contamination, here are 7 ways to do it:
1. Plastic Recycling – Carry a reusable fabric shopping bag when you head to the store. Instead of a doggy bag, bring your own containers along for leftovers while dining out, or opt for healthier home-cooked meals. Avoid disposable plastic, and make sure you’re recycling your trash!
2. Reduce and Reuse – Recycling is essential, but you can also save money and lower your carbon footprint by taking a stand against manufacturing and packaging waste. Shop in bulk for things you use regularly, and look for pre-owned items online, at garage sales, or thrift stores.
3. Less Littering – Litter isn’t just an eyesore, but a serious threat to marine ecosystems. Put trash into the right bins and encourage others around you to reduce litter as well. Volunteer to clean up a local beach if you live near one, and spread the word to get more people involved!
4. Green Energy – Over 400 million gallons of oil spill into oceans annually, killing thousands of marine animals and birds. Make greener lifestyle choices to reduce energy usage, such as carpooling/using public transport, installing energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and exploring renewable energy sources.
5. Wastewater Treatment – Raw sewage is a serious problem, so look into proper wastewater treatment, separation and recycling solutions. To reduce the leaching of toxic chemicals from septic tanks into the ground and eventually the sea, use eco-friendly cleaning products in your home.
6. Organic Agriculture – Chemical pesticides contain heavy metals that reach the ocean through inland streams and rivers. In addition to killing marine life, they can also seriously affect human health. Use organic pesticides in your garden or yard, and support local farmers who grow food using eco-friendly methods.
7. Sustainable Manufacturing – Manufacturing and industrial waste has been linked to air, land and water pollution for years. Make a difference by volunteering or financially supporting organizations that fight for sustainable production, reduced landfill use, recycling and green energy.
Even the smallest effort adds up when it comes to fighting ocean contamination, so always follow the three “R”s – Recycle, Reuse, Reduce!
Erich Lawson is passionate about saving the environment by effective recycling. He has written a wide array of articles on how modern recycling equipment can be used by industries to reduce monthly garbage bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment savings techniques by visiting Northern California Compactors, Inc blog.
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