At Mossy Earth we’re equally as passionate about surfing as we are environmental preservation and restoration. As keen surfers, we're probably more aware than most of the destructive nature of single use plastic in our oceans.
In 2016, PLOS ONE found 269,000 tonnes of plastic waste to be floating in our oceans. While a report for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that, by 2050, the volume of accumulated plastics in the oceans will be greater than that of fish! Not to mention the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is one of five main subtropical gyres (currents drawing floating debris into an enormous vortex), and is said to be visible from space at a whopping 1m sq km in size.
When plastic finds its way into our seas, its impact is damaging on so many levels. In its original state, it not only litters our beaches but marine life risk becoming caught up in it, or digesting it. There is an ever increasing number of whales, turtles, and seabirds washed up on our shores with stomachs full of plastic. An Orca found beached on the Californian coast last month had 32 undigested plastic bags in her stomach.
While many plastics don’t biodegrade, they do photodegrade – UV exposure eventually breaks all plastic objects into “microplastics”. These tiny plastic particles ranging in size from 5mm to 10 nanometres are mistaken as food by a variety of fish and shellfish. Last August, the results of a study by Plymouth University reported that plastic is found in a third of UK-caught fish.
If that’s not alarming enough, one must also consider the carbon emitted in the production and incineration of plastic. The carbon footprint of plastic (LDPE or PET, polyethylene) is about 6 kg CO2 per kg of plastic. Or in other words, for the production of just 5 plastic bags, 1 kg of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere.
This all has to stop, no? But where do we start and how do we change? Change begins at home. It starts with our daily decisions on how we live our lives, the products we purchase, and the ways we consume. So follow these 10 simple yet effective ways to refuse single-use plastic:
- Take your own reusable shopping bag to the supermarket.
- Carry your own food containers, cup and utensils to avoid unnecessary throw-away plastic crockery and cutlery in cafes, bars and even when on board a plane.
- Carry a reusable water bottle.
- Say no to disposable straws. Matt @ Mossy traveled 3 months in Central America with a bamboo straw. He estimates refusing up to 180 plastic straws on his trip!
- Avoid heavily and/or unnecessarily packaged foods.
- Return unnecessary food packaging to the manufacturer - this growing trend forces food producers to deal with the inconvenience and cost of disposal, which has subsequently seen a number of producers reduce their levels of packaging.
- Purchase from grocery stores and local markets that sell their cereals, grains, veggies, legumes, nuts etc loose and free of packaging.
- Refuse products that contain microbeads – tiny plastic balls found in some facial scrubs and toothpastes that quickly find their way into our water systems.
- Slow down and eat at home. Convenience food on-the-go is a big culprit of single use plastic
- Whenever at the beach, do a 5-minute beach clean up. You’re not only removing more litter than you thought you’d ever find in 5 minutes, but you’re also leading by example and inspiring others to do the same.
So what are you waiting for, join us in turning the tide on plastic pollution and make the pledge today in refusing single-use plastics!
-Co-Founder at Mossy Earth