Plastics are killing our oceans and in turn our planet. Since 1950, we have produced nearly 8.3 billion metric tonnes of virgin plastic (Geyer, Jambeck, & Law, 2017). To put that into perspective, that’s 25,000 Empire State Buildings worth of new plastics in the last 70 years. Much of that is single use plastics that end up in our oceans each year.
Single use plastic shopping bags are a major cause of marine animal death every year. From turtles to large marine mammals to birds, plastic bags are strangling our planet. While strangulation is a well known threat to marine life from plastics, other threats exist as well. For example, seabirds with large plastic amounts in their stomach have shown a reduce food consumption, limiting their ability to create fat deposits, and ultimately reduces their fitness (Ryan, Connell, & Gardner, 1988). Other harmful effects from plastic ingestion includes blockage of gastric enzyme secretions, reduced or diminished feeding behaviors, lowered steroid hormone levels, and reproduction failure (Azzarello & Van-Vleet, 1987). While the exact number of marine animal deaths caused by plastics is unknown, it has been estimated at nearly 100,000 individuals each year, with the number being higher for seabirds (NOAA, 2017).
Yet despite this knowledge, we continue to rely on single use plastics on a daily basis. World wide, nearly one trillion shopping bags are used every year (Levenson, 2010). That’s nearly 1 million per minute: Every. Single. Day. And those plastic bags- 90% of which we only used once- will take 1,000 years to fully degrade.
So what do we do? How can we make a difference every time we go shopping? The answer is simple: Reusable bags! They are super cheap- this listing on Amazon features 10 reusable bags that fold into adorable little strawberry pouches for $2.00! I have several bags I’ve collected over the years that I always keep in the car. Heading into the mall? Grab 2 bags. Heading into Target? Grab them all! -Let’s face it, you can never walk into Target and only buy the one thing you needed!- But on the plus side, Target does give you money back on every purchase for each bag you bring in.
But what about those annoying produce bags? You don’t want your produce touching the germ ridden cart- or worse the check out belt- Ew! Once again, Amazon has you covered with reusable mesh produce bags. This listing is for 9 produce bags and a shopping bag that folds into a tiny pocket carry case for $10.97 on Prime. I absolutely love mine and I feel good knowing my shopping trips are not adding to the single use epidemic.
Want to take it a step further?
- Try bringing reusable take out containers when you go out to eat for left overs
- Ditch the plastic toothbrush and try a bamboo toothbrush
- Bring your own knife and fork instead of reaching for the plastic ones
- Get your own water bottle or to-go coffee cup
- Reduce the plastics you consume by looking for items with alternative packaging
- Find creative ways to reuse the plastics you do have
- And ultimately recycle those plastics that you cannot avoid
Do your part for a better environment. We all have a responsibility to do better every day. There is #NoExcuseForSingleUse
The new Ocean For Sharks Shop is open! There’s handmade ocean inspired plush animals, canvas paintings, and of course my children’s book, Winifred the Wondrous Whale Shark, available in print and PDF. Be sure to stop by. Remember proceeds benefit shark research and conservation with a donation to Project AWARE!
Remember you can make a difference for marine ecosystems by calling your Congress man or woman and tell them that you care about the quality of our waters! Sharks, rays, and other marine organisms cannot speak or be represented in Congress. They need your voice. Get involved and stand up for sharks. Until next time finatics!
Featured Image Source
Flannery, A. (Photographer). (2017 October 18). Reusable produce and shopping bags [Digital Image].
Azzarello, M. Y., & Van Vleet, E. S. (1987). Marine birds and plastic pollution. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 295-303.
Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R., & Law, K. L. (2017). Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances, 3(7), e1700782.
Levenson, J. (2010, November 23). Preventing the dangers of plastic, protecting marine life. Retrieved from http://www.ifaw.org/united-states/node/2519
NOAA (2017). For Ocean Animals, ‘Death By Plastic’ Could Be Occurring More Frequently. Retrieve from http://www.iflscience.com/environment/ocean-animals-%E2%80%98death-plastic%E2%80%99-could-be-occurring-more-frequently/
Ryan, P. G., Connell, A. D., & Gardner, B. D. (1988). Plastic ingestion and PCBs in seabirds: is there a relationship?. Marine pollution bulletin, 19(4), 174-176.