With today being the first official World Ocean's Day, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Ocean Conservancy (a Planet Green non-profit partner) issued a timely and first-of-its-kind report titled Marine Litter: A Global Challenge.
The study—which spanned 12 major regional seas around the world—reveals that though there has been an increase in international, national, and regional efforts to combat marine pollution, an alarming amount of trash is still being discarded out to sea.
Topping the list is plastics and cigarette butts, with plastics accounting for over 80 percent of all trash, and cigarette filters, tobacco packets and cigar tips making up for 40 percent of all marine litter in the Mediterranean.
The story is certainly a sad one for marine animals like our already threatened sea turtles who confuse floating plastic bags with their preferred sea snack, jellyfish and then end up choking. But it's also sad for us in relation to our food chain. Studies found traces of plastic in Northeast Atlantic plankton, which if consumed by fish that we end up eating, means a close looped system of plastic starting with humans—and ending up inside humans.
Though it may sound like it, the report isn't just meant to scare the bejeezus out of us. It's really to inspire action and the good news is that it's not too late if we all act now. Famous conservationist Philippe Cousteau, CEO of EarthEcho International and Ocean Conservancy board member states,
This report is a reminder that carelessness and indifference is proving deadly for our oceans and its inhabitants. Offered here are more than mere facts and figures. The time for action is now, and true change will require taking a bold and courageous stand. There are solutions that everyone, everywhere in the world, can adopt to make a positive difference for our water planet.
Check out the full Marine Litter: A Global Challenge report here and then take action by choosing one more of these ocean-saving tips from Planet Green's other eco-NGO partner in crime, The Nature Conservancy.
10 Ocean Saving Tips
2. Make informed seafood choices. Keep a copy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's seafood guide in your wallet or text Blue Ocean's FishPhone to help you choose sustainable seafood at the grocery store or a restaurant.
3. Dispose of chemicals properly. Never pour chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil or paint into the drain or toilets. Check with your county's household hazardous waste program to properly dispose of or recycle chemicals and keep them out of rivers and oceans. 4. Choose green detergents and household cleaners—or make your own! Besides being better for your own health, these products are safer for the environment since what goes down the drain can end up in our oceans. 5. Get the dirt on your beachside retreat. Before you stay in a hotel on the coast, ask staff what happens to their sewage and swimming pool water, and if they source their restaurant fish from sustainable sources. 6. Find out the source of your food. Buying local, organic food reduces your carbon footprint, supports the local economy and reduces the amount of pesticides and fertilizers that end up not just in your stomach, but as run-off in rivers and oceans, too. 7. Fill your yard with native species. Reducing the amount of grass in your lawn by planting native shrubs and flower beds will provide a better habitat for birds and other wildlife and require far less water and fertilizer, which can seep into the oceans. 8. Keep your beach visit clean. When visiting the beach, stay off fragile sand dunes, take your trash with you and leave plants, birds and wildlife for everyone to enjoy. Find a Conservancy coastal preserve near you. 9. Choose alternatives to coral. Whether shopping for jewelry, household décor or accessories for your fish tank, do your part to leave fragile coral reef habitats untouched by buying products that aren't made of real coral.