The Problem, Solutions, Corporate Responsibility and You
Our modern lives are addicted to plastic. Over consumption and our throwaway lifestyle has made human life so dependent on fossil fuels that despite millions spent on awareness campaigns the past 7 years, we have not made a dent in reducing plastic consumption.
In the years ahead, plastic production is predicted to dramatically increase. This poses threats to our oceans because most plastic is made from fossil fuels, increased production will also contribute to climate change, threatening all human existence on planet earth.
Of all the plastic produced since 1950, less than 10 percent has been recycled (source: Geyer et al, 2017). Of the plastic that is not recycled, it is estimated that over 8 million tons enter the oceans each year. Experts estimate that trash in the ocean will outnumber fish by 2050.
Plastic never dies. It is the most widespread and long-lasting type of marine debris and dangerous to ocean ecosystems and humans. Plastic has been found on the most remote beaches, and at the bottom of the ocean's deepest trench.
Our dependence on plastics is unsustainable but the system that fuels plastic consumption is unassailable. As the world reels from the shock of the new virus among us, the media is telling us to use more single use plastic as a measure of good hygiene. Our disposal systems are no match for the longevity of these products. On a remote island near Hong Kong in the Indian ocean, where no life exists, tons of surgical gloves and plastic medical waste is washing up onshore of what once were the most pristine beaches.
We have a roadmap. Making this transition requires collaboration on a global scale. We need to unite under a single platform, rooted in science and understanding of conservation and global capitalist impulses. We need producers, consumers and governments to work together. To incentivize and encourage all these processes; expand awareness and education to ensure everyone does their part; and many more changes. To successfully combat ocean plastic pollution, we will need to all be in this together. Come join us, ride the wave.
Engage in outside-the-box discussions regarding entirely new ways to produce, consume, and manage all the things integral to our everyday lives.
Integrate recycled materials into company products and materials, and support infrastructure, education, and other processes to ensure their products are recycled at their end-of-life.
Find ways to reuse and repair products rather than throwing them away, and to support consumers in doing the same, such as through recommerce business models.
Phase out wasteful/excess packaging, lightweight products, and design/source new products and materials that are plastic-free.
Partner with each other and other stakeholders to come up with solutions that work for all.
Commit time, money, and resources toward new research and development to combat plastic pollution.
Encourage governments to invest in better waste management infrastructure, phase out particularly problematic products and processes, share data and knowledge with other regions, and enact new regulations and policies that prevent plastic pollution.
Design new products, services, materials, and packaging that reduce waste, don’t use plastic, and otherwise help keep plastic out of the oceans.
Are you a student or educator? Organize a school plastic reduction campaign and help your campus go plastic free.
Participate in a beach cleanup such as Ocean Conservancy's annual International Coastal Cleanup.
Organize a "brand audit" to see which companies are contributing to the plastic waste found in nature near you.
Reduce your plastic waste or go plastic-free.