World Oceans Day is celebrated every June 8th. Countries, governments, public and non-profit organizations join together to advance education, take action, and contribute solutions to honor, protect, and conserve the oceans.
Created in 1992 at a United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the United Nations declared this an official annual event in 2008.
This year’s theme, “Clean Our Oceans”, is focused on finding solutions to alleviate the toxic threat plastic waste poses to the world. By 2050, the World Economic Forum predicts the world’s oceans will contain, pound for pound, more plastic than fish.
Globally, it is estimated a million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, but 91% of all plastic is not recycled. Plastic waste is creating toxic floating islands of trash.
Why is this important?
Sea birds, sea mammals, and marine life die from intaking indigestible plastic bags and small particles they mistake as food. Then it comes around the food chain back to us.
We can all be stewards of change, not just on June 8th, but every day.
Here are a dozen ideas:
1. Learn about global ocean conservation efforts.
Read, surf the web, and experience the ocean firsthand. Visit an aquarium or zoo. Don’t just stand on the sidelines. Become a supporter and active participant.
2. Join a local beach, wetland, or water clean up event.
It needn’t be a large-scale effort. Even gathering a group of friends to clean up a favorite section of beach can be productive.
3. Jog with a purpose.
Sweden’s fitness craze of “plogging” – picking up trash while jogging – has started to catch on in America and is good for health. A half hour of jogging and picking up trash burns 288 calories. Grab a trash bag, put on some gloves, go for a run and improve the neighborhood!
4. Opt for reusable glass or metal water bottles.
Single use plastic bottles are wasteful to the environment and cost nearly $5 per day to drink the recommended eight glasses.
5. Reduce reliance on plastic.
Plastic bottles take 450 years to decompose; bags in landfills may take thousands of years. Wherever possible, choose products and food that minimize the use of plastic.
6. Carry purchases in reusable tote bags.
Single use bags start out as fossil fuel, are flimsy to use, clog the waterways and get ingested by fish. High quality tote bags crafted of fiber, paper, or recycled plastics hold lots more, come in various designs, save cash and last longer.
7. Buy sustainable seafood.
Love seafood but don’t live near the sea? Make ocean friendly seafood choices. Learn what is available in your region and choose items that are farmed or caught in responsible ways.
8. Avoid plastic in home and personal care products.
Did you know cotton swabs, plastic straws, cigarette butts/filters, and wet wipes contain plastic components that do not decompose easily? Everyday cosmetics, face scrubs, body washes, and even toothpaste may contain microbeads (.5 to 500 micrometers in diameter) of plastic. Microbeads go down the drain, can pass through sewage treatment and end up in the ocean, absorbing and concentrating pollutants like pesticides. The ingestion of microbeads by marine life creates toxicity for all species up the food chain.
9. Join forces with a local environmental group.
Adopt a local body of water to keep clean year-round. Like-minded folks can create change through action.
10. Host a local event, publish an op-ed, or produce a public access broadcast.
Start a conversation about ocean pollution, find solutions and implement action plans within your workplace or local community.
11. Create a community art event with an eco theme.
Ask participants to use discarded plastic items with eco-friendly paints and adhesives; select a panel of local artists and environmentalists to judge and award prizes; and invite the media to cover the event.
12. Open a dialogue with local eateries.
The movement is already underfoot at theme parks and national restaurant chains. Now is the time to make a switch away from single-use plastic utensils, straws, and lids to marine-friendly alternatives.
Be the change!
You can start local and make thoughtful moves to support the oceans. Your efforts can benefit global health, bring personal satisfaction, and improve food sources for future generations.
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