The latest Surfer Magazine features an eye-opening article on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. That’s the nightmarish oceanic trash dump that’s about 1,000 miles off the coast of California. The patch is roughly the size of the United States (reports on its size vary) and it’s only getting worse. It contains mostly plastic that does not break down. Instead it breaks apart into tiny flecks that cannot be cleaned up. The impact on wildlife is already catastrophic.
The time to act is yesterday. Here are five ways to be sure you don’t contribute to the Garbage Patch.
Remember your shopping tote
Those handy shopping totes are available everywhere and you probably have a million of them. But how many times have you found yourself at the store with no bag. Well just this once, I’ll take plastic…
Instead of forgetting the bags, divide them up into each of your cars, your bike panniers, or backpack – whatever you would take to the store. Be conscious of replenishing the supply when you bring the groceries into the house. Get something super compact that can fit into a purse or a jacket so you are never without one.
Replace multiple cheap impulse buys for the kids or yourself at the supermarket or drugstore – you know, the pez dispenser, the plastic ball, the cosmetic bag – with just one or two really nice and sustainable toys or accessories. Choose wooden toys or handmade accessories that would be enjoyable and well-built enough to hand down through the generations instead of using for a week and tossing.
Make your own cleaners
Instead of buying lots of different plastic containers containing cleaners (non-toxic or no) just reuse the ones you already have and make your own. They work just as well and will save you money.
Buy recycled plastic
Wherever you can, stop buying new plastic all together. Choose products because they come in recycled containers. Close the loop to keep up the demand for recycled products so we will continue to have recycling programs.
Do a beach or other outdoor space clean-up
Beach clean ups are crucial to protecting the oceans from this stuff. Official beach clean-ups sponsored by Surfrider or other organizations are actually fun and a great way to be part of the solution. However, there is no need to wait for an official clean-up. Anytime you’re at the beach, make a point to remove at least a few pieces of trash before you leave. Set a good example and it will catch on.
If you don’t live near the beach, help clean up whatever natural spaces are available to you. Ocean animals and ecosystems aren’t the only ones suffering from our disposable culture.
Plastic can seem like an essential part of our lives, but it’s time to turn the tides and consider the bigger picture. These tips will help you reduce the use of plastic and its impact on the environment.