Plastic is a problem, but it’s one we can do something about.
According to The Ocean Cleanup, a project dedicated to ridding the ocean of waste, there are currently 5 trillion pieces of plastic waste in the world's oceans.
These plastics come in many different forms. Just think about all the plastic items we use daily: the toothbrush we grab first thing in the morning, the container our lunch comes in, or the bottle we drink water from after working out. All these things get used and, eventually, thrown out.
Unlike some other kinds of waste, plastic doesn’t decompose. That means plastic can stick around indefinitely, wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems. Some plastics float once they enter the ocean, though not all do. As the plastic is tossed around, much of it breaks into tiny pieces, called microplastics.
Microplastics are fragments of any type of plastic less than 5 mm in length, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They can come from large plastics breaking down, or can be produced as small plastics such as microbeads, which can be found in products such as toothpaste and face wash.
Plastics by the numbers*
Some key facts:
• Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years
• Production increased exponentially, from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015. Production is expected to double by 2050
• Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That’s the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world
• Plastics often contain additives making them stronger, more flexible, and durable. But many of these additives can extend the life of products if they become litter, with some estimates ranging to at least 400 years to break down
*Source: National Geographic
So, what can we do?
When it comes to our oceans, Erin Simon, WWF’s director of sustainability research and development says: “I think the first response everyone has to seeing plastic waste is that it doesn’t belong there, so let’s just get rid of it. But while cleaning up the oceans is critical, it’s not the first step. When the sink is flooding, you don’t start with the mop; you start by turning off the tap.”
Having stated this, there are a few things we can do to keep plastic out of the ocean:
- Plan ahead. Keep a water bottle or reusable coffee mug with you, have your own utensils for on-the-go meals, and carry a reusable shopping bag
- Use and reuse plastic as long as you can, then get creative and reuse it for something else
- Participate in a cleanup. Volunteer to pick up marine litter in your local community or clean up your neighborhood. Every piece of plastic you pick up is one less piece in nature
- Support companies and brands that are working to solve the plastics crisis and help them put the word out. This is teamwork!
- Reduce plastic use. Think about all the plastic items you use every day. Being more aware of how and why you use such plastics is the first step to reducing their use. Commit to changing your habits by reducing your use of disposable and single-use plastic items, reusing items and/or recycling them
What's your t-shirt impact?
- Our T-Shirts save an average of 145 gallons of water
- They reduce 4 kg of CO2 emissions
- About 6-8 plastic water bottles are reused to create each tee
- When purchasing 1 product, you are planting 1 tree