Plastic-Free to Save our Sea
What if the ocean had more plastic than fish?
It sounds crazy – but scientists predict it may happen by 2050. Plastic is found in almost all of the Earth’s waters – its rivers, lakes, and especially the ocean, threatening marine animals.
But we can stop the tide.
Humans generate about 300 million tons of plastic each year – and 8.8 million tons of it ends up in the ocean. These plastics, like bags, straws, and bottles, flow into the ocean from storm drains, litter, landfills and recycling stations. 80% of ocean trash starts on land.
Plastics persist in the ocean for a very long time, breaking up into small pieces but never really going away. These micro plastics absorb pollutants, forming a toxic “smog” and concentrating in five ocean gyres. Most is invisible microplastic – impossible to clean up.
- Ocean wildlife such as fish, seals, sea lions, otters, seabirds and whales are harmed by plastics when they become entangled. Nearly 700 species have been documented encountering plastic.
- Many marine animals mistake plastic ocean trash for food, nibbling on it or ingesting it entirely. It’s estimated that 90% of seabirds eat plastic, many feeding it to their chicks which may die from lack of nutrition – despite a full stomach.
- Toxic microplastics are ingested by invertebrate larvae and fish and are concentrated as these creatures are eaten by other animals up the food web – including seals, sea birds, and orcas. These “poison pills” may contain 1 million times the concentration of PCBs compared to the surrounding water.
- The implications to human health of microplastics being contained in the food we eat is still unknown.
- Avoid buying single-use plastic whenever possible.
- Avoid individually wrapped items such as snack packs and single-serve containers. Buy items in bulk when possible.
- Fill a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water. (You can find water bottle filling stations throughout the Zoo!)
- Use your reusable bag and containers when shopping, traveling, or packing lunches.
- Ask restaurant servers to ‘skip the straw, please.’
- Bring your own container for leftovers when dining out.
- Support proposed bans on single-use plastic bags, like Tacoma’s.
- Organize clean-up efforts in your community.
- Start a workplace effort to reduce plastic.
- Spark a conversation on social media.