Written by Lexi Leonard and Abby Bock
June 8, World Ocean Day, is a day meant to celebrate and commemorate our ocean – while also taking collective action on behalf of our planet. This year’s theme is revitalization.
For 2022, World Ocean Day is raising awareness and support for the global movement to protect at least 30% of the world’s lands, waters, and ocean by 2030 (30×30). Safeguarding at least 30% through a network of highly protected areas can help ensure a healthy ocean and climate.
The ocean is essential for all life on Earth, including humans. To ensure a sustainable future, we must protect and preserve healthy marine ecosystems.
The ocean cover’s around 70% of earth’s surface, providing over half of the world’s oxygen we breathe. Playing a major role in regulating climate and weather patterns, the ocean also provides transportation and offers several recreational uses to us. The ocean is home to thousands of marine species, many of which provide food and medicine to humans.
Plastic pollution continues to prove a huge threat to our ocean’s, having devastating effects on the life within it. The most visible impacts are seen in the ingestion, suffocation, and entanglement of hundreds of marine species. By losing marine species due to plastic, we see negative changes to our food chain and structure. However, plastic debris is also responsible for causing injury to coral tissue and promoting infection through speeding the growth of damaging algae and lowering water quality. By plastic being in the ocean, it makes our way into our food and into us.
Plastic debris is the most abundant type of litter in the ocean, making up 80% of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. Even if you live hundreds of miles from the coast, the plastic you throw away can make its way into the ocean. Plastic you put in bins ends up in a landfill. When rubbish is being transported, it can often blow away because it is so lightweight. From there, it can eventually clutter around drains and enter rivers and the sea this way.
Additionally, wind and rainwater can carry plastic waste into streams and rivers, and through drains. Then, the drains lead into the ocean.
The bottom line is plastic gets into the ocean from us, whether you live near the ocean or not. There’s always a chance the plastic we throw away could make it to the sea.
Big changes start with small steps.
By 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic in our ocean than fish if we don’t change our habits. Visit pledge2050.org to join thousands of others in taking the pledge to quit plastic. The time is now to save our oceans and our planet, together.