Oceans play an integral part of life and can be considered the heart of our planet. Covering around 70% of the earth’s surface and providing between 50 to 85% of the globe’s oxygen production, it remains vital that we preserve and maintain our precious waters. Home to a diverse and spectacular range of aquatic life, oceans remain an important provider of food, income, and recreation. It’s this recreational part that leaves a pang on the hearts of those who wish to enjoy the ocean for its beauty, and instead, are faced with wave after wave of plastic waste.
Devastating Impact Of Plastic
It is estimated that around 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, the effects of this on aquatic life and marine environments are devastating. Scientists estimate that a single plastic bottle may take around 450 years to degrade while a single plastic bag can take between 10-20 years. Marine biologists estimate that around 700 species are impacted by plastic found in oceans, with the ingestion of plastic causing a significant amount of damage to seabirds and turtles. The decline and deoxygenation of oceans are largely contributed to by human activity. Pollution and illegal dumping are known to contaminate eco marine environments, resulting in an increase in toxicity levels. For swimmers, the increasing toxicity of the ocean becomes increasingly worrisome.
Recreation Use And The Future
Ocean environments have proven to be the central hub of recreation use for humans throughout history. With a host of fun activities to enjoy, swimming proving to be popular among tourists and locals. It is estimated that around 91 million people in the U.S visit and swim in the ocean annually. It’s crucial that we maintain and care for our oceans by making eco-friendly choices. These eco choices will have a rippling effect on the quality of our oceans, ensuring that pollution levels maintain health and safety regulations.
Many countries also rely on the health of the ocean as part of their tourism, with beach ratings improving or decreasing based on the quality of that particular beach’s water. If not, tourists and locals may get sick if the water is dirty and contaminated. Staying healthy while traveling to these idyllic oceanic destinations is important, especially when traveling with a family. It’s imperative for local hotel chains and resorts to join in on ocean health and the reduction of plastic waste to safeguard their industry, as well as the overall health of the ocean.
Ways To Reduce Oceanic Plastic
Researchers estimate that currently there are around 5 trillion plastic particles floating around in the world’s oceans. The major problem with plastic that ends up in the ocean is that it doesn’t just go away. A great way of reducing oceanic plastic is by eliminating single-use plastic items. Single-use items include plastic straws, cups, utensils, bags, water bottles, and many other forms of plastic. With more people becoming aware of the damaging effect of plastic, the use of plastic alternatives is on the rise. Opting for stainless steel reusable straws and cups are a great way to get the eco train rolling. Another practical alternative is opting for bioplastics, 100% degradable, cheap, and sustainable. A few simple life changes will have a rippling effect on the ocean and the overall health of our planet.
As a swimmer, there’s nothing more frustrating than coming face-to-face with someone else’s trash while training or enjoying the sheer beauty of the ocean. By making changes and holding organizations accountable, crisp clear waters and healthy sea life can be something to look forward to once again.
Guest post by Sara Zipf