Individual actions are key to addressing the global problem of marine litter. Our personal decisions can make a difference. They help reduce the total amount of plastic entering the environment and ultimately the ocean. Examples of inspirational actions that are making difference around the world include Clean up Kenya, an environmental project to encourage citizens to develop a sense of civic pride in clean neighborhoods. Bye Bye Plastic Bag is a youth-driven environmental campaign to get rid of plastic bags on the island of Bali, Indonesia. The Last Straw is an Australian campaign to end the use of plastic straws. The city of San Francisco is banning plastic bags and water bottles.The Indian state of Maharashtra and the European Union are banning single-use plastics.
With these inspirations in mind, here is how we can all play our part in tackling marine litter:
- Be an educated consumer– dispose of your waste in responsible manner so that it doesn’t end up in the ocean, reduce your use of unnecessary single-use plastics by choosing reusable items, bring your own waterbottle, check that your cosmetics don’t contain microplastics, carry a shopping bag, use a reusable coffee cup, don’t take a straw and purchase less food wrapped in unnecessary plastics.
- Sort and recycle your plastics– recycled plastic means less plastic being produced and entering the environment. It seems obvious, but we could do a better job of it. Don’t we all know someone who needs a little help to recycle properly?
- Take on and/or support direct action– participate in a local recycling programmes or beach cleanups. Support international campaigns that help remove plastic directly from the environment and prevent it becoming marine litter.
Support your government to address marine litter. Contact your representatives and let them know that this issue is important to you. Urge them to follow the lead of those in Kenya, Bali, San Francisco and many other cities and countries across the world by introducing or supporting policies that make plastic use less desirable.
The following graphics are extracted from: UNEP and GRID-Arendal, 2016. Marine Litter Vital Graphics. United Nations Environment Programme and GRID-Arendal. Nairobi and Arendal. www.unep.org, www.grida.no