There you are, an ancient sea turtle gliding through the sea and you see a delicious jellyfish. You swallow it, but it turns out to be a plastic bag… More than a third of the world’s sea turtles have been found with plastic waste in their stomachs.
Plastic bags can spend their lifetimes floating in our oceans causing harm to wildlife. Yet Australians use billions of plastic bags each year at the checkout.
When plastics (and so called ‘biodegradable’ plastic bags) do break down, they simply break into smaller pieces of plastic. This makes it easier for turtles, seabirds and fish to mistake them for food and fill their stomachs with indigestible waste, which slowly starves them.How to Reduce Your Use
Australians buy almost 15 billion plastic bottles every year — and we often add a plastic straw! Thoughtlessly discarded, these single use items can end up washed into our coasts and seas.
Once in the ocean, bottles and straws break up into microscopic pieces which are ingested by marine life - from the smallest plankton to the largest whale. Creatures often can’t pass plastics once in their stomach, so their guts fill up with plastic, leaving less space for food, and they slowly starve.
Saying no to plastic bottles and plastic straws is a great way to keep plastic pollution out of our oceans. Container deposit schemes can also help. These are systems that pay a small refund when people return their containers to a recycling location. Studies show that Container Deposit Schemes increase the recovery of plastic bottles by a whopping 80%!How to Reduce Your Use
We’ve all seen it - individually wrapped cucumbers and plastic wrapped bananas. The problem of plastic wrapping and plastic packaging in our supermarkets seems to be getting worse. Then there’s plastic containers for take away meals and a hundred other ways we accept single-use plastic packaging. Even coffee cups have a plastic lining, so they’re not actually recyclable!
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can change the rules and stop this problem at its source - by demanding companies and supermarkets break their plastic addiction.
And we can help every day by saying no to plastic packaging - using paper bags, reusable produce bags, or bringing reusable coffee cups and containers to cafes and take away restaurants.How to Reduce Your Use
Two kinds of microplastics pollute our oceans. The first type is tiny manufactured plastics that are intentionally designed that way. These manufactured plastics are called ‘nurdles’, and are used in factories to make larger plastic products. Other types of manufactured microplastics are tiny microbeads used in products like facial and body scrubs, toothpastes and washing powders.
The second type of microplastic comes from larger plastics breaking down. When plastic bags, bottles and straws break down they keep getting smaller until they can’t be seen, but they stay in the system forever. Microfibres are another type of microplastic. These are invisible plastic fibres that are shed from synthetic fabrics like polyester. A 2015 study found that a staggering 250,000 fibers were released in a single wash of just one 500g fleece jacket! (1)
We need to ban microbeads in household products, tackle the problem of microfibres, and avoid plastic products and products that contain microplastics.How to Reduce Your Use
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We know that fish, and even zooplankton - some of the smallest creatures on earth - are eating more and more plastic every year. And while you wouldn’t choose to eat plastic soaked in hazardous chemicals, there’s a real danger that you are eating fish and seafood contaminated by their plastic meals.
Plastics, once in the ocean, are known to absorb a range of hazardous chemicals. Over time, toxins accumulate onto floating and drifting fragmented plastic debris, and are eventually ingested by marine life. We don’t know whether these pollutants are being passed up the food chain to us humans, but it’s likely that they are an increasing risk to human health. (2)
We need an investigation into the toxic risks of plastics in our seafood, and we need to keep plastic out of our oceans - for the safety of our fish, marine life, and ultimately our own lives.
If we want to avoid a plastic ocean, we need to reduce plastic pollution, by refusing plastics.
Find out how to reduce your plastic use with 25+ ways to go beyond just saying no to plastic bags.
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