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How to Combat the Environmental Threat of Ocean Plastics

Jen Foley headshotWords by Jennifer Foley
Energy & Environment
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By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.*

This sobering statistic was announced at the World Economic Forum in 2016 via a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and became the impetus for spirits distributer Bacardi’s partnership with Lonely Whale on the original #NoStraws initiative — and many others — the same year.

It is also the reason that, in the last couple of months, we have seen three of the largest environmental awareness day campaigns — Earth Day (April 22), World Environment Day (June 5) and World Oceans Day (June 8) — all working with the same theme: Ocean Plastics.

The Earth Day Network tagline was, “Earth Day is Every Day; End Plastic Pollution,” and the organization offered three ways to pledge to reduce the amount of plastics ending up in our oceans. Participants were armed with a “Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolbelt”, a “Footprint Calculator and Planner”, and taken through the process of setting up events and activities commemorating the day.

On World Environment Day, in addition to launching the first-ever global plastics report, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) initiated a full-on game of Celebrity Social Media “Tag” to spread the word about what individuals and companies can do to reduce single-use plastics, under the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution. With help from NYC film company Footage Films, videos were created to show how each celebrity would make the (visible) switch from single-use plastics.

Among the participating celebrities are William Shatner, Adrian Grenier, James Cromwell, Lana Parrilla, Jeri Ryan, and Draco Malfoy himself, Tom Felton -- whose promise video was retweeted by J.K. Rowling to her 14.4M followers. Participants tagged each other, family, friends, and corporations. They then pledged to do away with such items as plastic straws, plastic forks, single-use plastic water bottles, single-use coffee cups with plastic tops, and plastic shopping bags.

Companies tagged in this initiative include Dell, McDonalds, Whole Foods, Starbucks, IBM, and Tampax. Many companies already have initiatives in place, like Dell, with their participation in the NextWave consortium of companies that is “the first cross-industry, commercial-scale global ocean bound plastics supply chain” looking to keep plastics out of our oceans.

For World Oceans Day, events and initiatives are planned around the globe: from the challenge for individuals to pick up one piece of plastic litter (which would ultimately end up in an ocean) per day; to beach cleanups; to viewings of the 2016 feature-length documentary film “A Plastic Ocean”; and beyond.

It is clear that this is one environmental issue for which every one of us can effect needed change by taking the threat seriously and amending our single-use plastic lifestyles for the good of all.

*Note from the author: The ramifications of all of this plastic in the ocean should be obvious, but here is a great article to remind readers of the impending ruination of our oceans.

Photo: Ocean Conservancy

Jennifer Foley headshotJennifer Foley

Jennifer Foley is a former 3BL Media employee.

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