July 14th, 2019 was our first annual Global Beach Cleanup!
With 22 locations in North America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, a huge positive impact was made reducing plastic waste from entering the oceans and educating beach goers about marine pollution along the way.
Countless participants joined in at beaches on fresh and saltwater around the world, and dedicated their time and energy to picking up huge amounts of plastic waste. We encountered many beach goers who were curious as to what we were doing. This presented an opportunity for education on the problem of marine pollution and encouraging others to make more conscious decisions in their daily lives.
With an estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste entering the oceans each year from coastal regions, it’s vital to do our part to protect the oceans and all its inhabitants. Plastic can have painful, or even fatal, effects when it comes in contact with marine animals. There have been several instances where whales have washed up dead, with stomachs full of various plastic trash.
Here are some staggering plastic facts:
Less than a fifth of all plastic is recycled
Don’t be fooled by the recycle bin. The United States recycles a mere 9% of all plastic trash. The average American may be motivated to “go green” by putting their plastic bottles in the recycle bin, but whether they actually get processed and recycled depends on the market changes and business cycles in the recycling industry. In Europe, where the highest recycling rates are, about 30% of all plastic trash is recycled. We can do our part in reducing plastic waste by simply reducing the amount of plastic we use in our daily lives.
A bulk of the plastics in the ocean is from fishing gear
Nets, lines, and other fishing gear is often lost or intentionally discarded into the open ocean. They are a huge source of mortality for many marine species; dolphins, whales, sharks, rays, turtles, seals and sea lions and countless others. To help combat this aspect of marine pollution, we must choose seafood with caution, or take it a step further and avoid seafood altogether!
About 1 million plastic drink bottles are sold around the world every minute
If every person in North America bought one less plastic drink bottle today, there would be 579 million LESS plastic bottles that get thrown away in just one day! Single use plastics are a huge source of plastic waste on land. Between straws, bottles, bags, food containers and other packaging, there is a lot of single use plastics we encounter in our daily lives. Think of what you could live without!
With the success of our first global cleanup event, we look forward to organizing another global cleanup event in the future. In the meantime, there are ways to help all year long!
Bring a bucket or reusable bag with you when you go to the park, river, beach, lake or any outdoor environment. This way you can collect any trash you might find and help leave the space clean and safe for wildlife. Post your photos on social media using #fiveminutebeachcleanup!
More ways to help:
National Geographic – Fast Facts About Plastic Pollution
National Geographic – Great pacific garbage patch isn’t what you think it is
The Week – America has a recycling problem