Help Keep Our Oceans Clean This Mother Ocean Day!

Help Keep Our Oceans Clean This Mother Ocean Day!

Posted by Georgia Wilson on May 10, 2018

Today is the day to pay homage to our planet’s 5 oceans, and a time to respect this vital and wonderous force of nature. For many of us, the sea is a mysterious entity and it is hard to deny the allure of the deep unknown. It is the setting of the incredible documentaries that we watch on TV, and discoveries we believe that only the likes of David Attenborough truly understand. For others, the ocean holds fond memories of warm summer days and holidays away, and the seas set the scene of our favourite pirate and mermaid tales, that many of us enjoyed as children. 

Whale Tail

The ocean, however beautiful we remember or market it, unfortunately houses an ugly truth. It is no secret that for many years the seas have been continuously polluted with harmful chemicals as well as residential and industrial waste. Even though the ocean covers more than 70% of our planet, the mindset of ‘out of sight out of mind’ has grown and has left our once clean oceans in extremely dire straits. Slowly but surely though, we have been opening our eyes to the damage that has been caused.

Throughout the past few years we have been educated on the effects of carbon emissions, the bleaching of coral reefs, and the vast amounts of non-biodegradable plastics invading the home of all aquatic creatures. These acts are having a devastating impact on the food chain from plants and the smallest of plankton right through to the largest animal on the planet, the blue whale.

The most shocking of revelations and the one causing many to act is the substantial growth of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Sadly, this is the biggest of the five major ‘garbage patches’ in the ocean. The vortex of plastic particles has recently been exposed by scientists of the Ocean Cleanup Foundation to be 16 times larger than previously thought. An educated estimate of 80,000 tonnes of waste (around 1.8 trillion particles of all sizes) are floating in this area alone and researchers found that 99% of this waste was made of plastic. The sheer size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is distressing: it is twice the size of Texas, up to 9 feet deep, and within it can be found more than 6 times more plastic than plankton, the main diet of sea animals.

Turtle Biting Plastic Bottle

Thankfully, the attitude towards marine pollution is changing, especially with regards to plastic. In 2015 we witnessed the introduction of the 5p charge on single-use carrier bags. This implementation dramatically reduced plastic bag use in just one year! With documentaries such as Blue Planet II and videos emerging of sea animals directly affected by plastic waste (including the video that circulated of a sea turtle whose nose had been blocked by a plastic straw which can be seen below. Please take note this video may cause distress), many of us are encouraging and fighting for change. A hopeful ban of non-biodegradable plastic straws and cotton buds is currently being discussed.

A wave of change has spread through the high-street, with restaurant and bar chains (such as McDonald’s, Wetherspoons and Frankie and Benny’s) ditching plastic straws and testing out alternatives. Pizza Express also decided to take action after they received a heart-warming letter from a 5-year-old girl who expressed her concerns of plastic straws making sea animals sick. In April of this year, more than 40 companies, including Coca-Cola, Asda and Marks and Spencer signed up to the UK Plastic Pact. They have pledged to cut plastic pollution over the next 7 years with each company detailing their own pledge promises. Some companies aim to make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable.

The Blue Planet effect has even extended to Buckingham Palace, which has implemented new plans around waste reduction! The Queen is said to have taken a personal interest in plastic pollution after her work with Sir David Attenborough on a wildlife conservation documentary in the Commonwealth. This article written by the Telegraph quotes Julian Kirby, who says the concern now reaching the royal household "shows how much momentum is building behind the war on plastic pollution."

While there are pledges being made, it is important to look closer to home. How can the everyman get involved in the reduction of marine pollution? The obvious answer is to stop littering and take recycling seriously. Everything that can be recycled should be!

Another answer is to support conservation campaigns. 4Ocean make bracelets out of recycled materials and each one bought funds ocean clean-up activities. In the 2 years they have been running, they have been able to remove roughly 600,000 pounds of rubbish from the sea. A similar campaign idea, run by Take3, encourages beachgoers to pick up 3 pieces of rubbish when they leave by using the catchy slogan “Take 3 For The Sea”. Here at The Great Project,s we realise that not everyone lives by the ocean or visits the seaside regularly, so we’re encouraging people to pick up a piece of litter each day to avoid it making its way to an ocean 'garbage patch'. Together we should show pride and take care of, our home as after all, there is no planet B...  

Find out how you can aid marine conservation efforts by heading to our marine volunteer page now! 

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