Right now an estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic – everything from plastic bottles and bags to microbeads – end up in our oceans each year. That’s a truck load of rubbish every minute.
Over the Christmas break I was fortunate enough to volunteer at a Turtle Watch, where I helped save, tag and release turtles. Unfortunately, through this experience I learnt about the treacherous impacts that litter and plastic have on the environment, marine life, and animals. Spending most of my time on the beach and in mangrove forests, I was shocked to see the vast quantity of plastic that had been washed up in such a small area.
Some of you may be wondering about the relevance of this, assuming that it has no impact on you. However that is not the case, our world is drowning in plastic and waste, of which most of it has ended up in the ocean. Plastic pollution is becoming a global crisis. A crisis which threatens a variety of marine animals, including turtles.
Big pieces of plastic are choking and entangling turtles and seabirds, and tiny pieces are clogging the stomachs of creatures who mistake it for food – from tiny zooplankton to whales. Plastic is now entering every level of the ocean food chain and even ending up in the seafood on our plates.
Although this is an issue which needs to be tackled on a global scale, there are still things that we can do to reduce the impacts before it’s too late. This could be something as small as throwing your rubbish in the bin or picking up litter when walking on the beach or in town, or even stopping the use of plastics bags when you go shopping.
This morning rather than leaving you motivated or inspired, I wanted to leave you more aware. More aware of the scale and the serious impacts that the increased and constant use of plastic is having on our planet, on the environment and, more importantly, on animals.