Global Solutions for Ocean Pollution

Trash wave

We should’t have to worry about trashy waves!

Global Solutions for the World’s Ocean Pollution
By Fallon Rabin, president of the ACE Recycle Club

On Wednesday Arpil 20th, 2016 ACE Recycle Club’s Fallon Rabin attended the “Stopping Ocean Pollution” workshop hosted by the Clean Technology Council in Thousand Oaks, CA. The problems she learned about can be viewed as disheartening, but Fallon found inspiration by exploring the solutions. 

Do you believe that plastic is still a major problem in polluting our ocean environment? If you answered yes, you are correct. It is the leading cause of ocean pollution. According to Associate Prof. Roland Geyer, PhD, UC Santa Barbara, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, eight million tons of plastic enters the water every year. Stopping Ocean Pollution WorkshopAt a recent Clean Technology Council Workshop in Thousand Oaks, he explained the magnitude plastic waste has on the world’s oceans, environment and our health. Fortunately, Prof. Geyer also gave concrete global solutions to help stop ocean pollution.

 

Great Pacific Garbage PatchI’m sure most people have heard of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Some may believe that you actually see garbage items floating in this patch but this is not the case. In reality, it’s micro plastic or plastic that has photodegraded into tiny microscopic particles. Plastic is non-biodegradable. It is forever folks! There is only one way to get rid of it, to burn it. Unfortunately, burning plastic isn’t the solution because it creates more problems with climate change due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases.

There are three main sources of plastic pollution in our oceans:

  • Waste and litter from land
  • Natural disasters
  • Maritime activities (Dump from ships, lost cargo, fishing and aquaculture, recreation, oceanographic research)
Microplastics Found in Sand. Photo: NOAA

Microplastics can be found in every handful of sand. Photo: NOAA

China leads globally with its plastic waste and the U.S. is twentieth. Humans have created 6.6 billion metric tons of plastic in the last 65 years and 50% of that amount was created in just the last 15 years! Approximately 6,350-245,000 metric tons of global plastic is floating in our oceans. This amount would cover an area the size of Manhattan 34 times at ankle depth! This amount doesn’t include the plastic ingested by the marine/wildlife, the seafloor, and our beaches/coastlines. Also, 80% of microfibers from clothing are found in the ocean. Did you know that if you took a scoop of sand in your hand from anywhere in the world, you would find microscopic plastic in it? We are producing more plastic waste than the environment can handle. It’s not only causing health issues for nature but also for us.

 

Finally, some global solutions to stop ocean pollution:

  • Reduce plastic consumption
  • Redesign products
  • Use different materials
  • Recycle (although this is helpful, it is not a long term solution, especially if done incorrectly)

    The 5 Rs Pyramid: Rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle

    The 5 Rs Pyramid: Rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle

California is a true role model for the rest of the world, considering its high coastal population.  Its recycle/waste management infrastructure is among the best and they currently have a referendum to ban plastic bags statewide. If it passes, it could be the beginning of a beautiful global trend to protect our oceans and waterways from plastic waste. Ocean pollution CAN be fixed, if we work together.

"Ocean pollution CAN be fixed, if we work together"

“Ocean pollution CAN be fixed, if we work together”

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One thought on “Global Solutions for Ocean Pollution

  1. Pingback: Congratulations Clubs! | Club Heal the Bay

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