There is a hellava lot of plastic in the sea. How much? Well, it’s hard to say as no-one really measures it. But as a way of indicating how much plastic, just visible plastic I might add, is in the sea, here is a stat from here in Devon, UK.
Within 5 months, October 2020 to February 2021, 2 tons of plastic was removed from beaches in South Devon as a result of community beach cleans.
And that was just the plastic collected by a group of volunteers over a short period of time, and in a pretty small area.
As a more worrying indicator (if one were needed), a team visiting the remote Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific found 38 million pieces of plastic.
And the amount of sea plastics increases every day because, well, everything we use comes wrapped in plastic. And the problem is that not all of that plastic is recycled or even sent into the waste system.
How much plastic is in the sea?
Measuring the actual volume of plastic in the sea is a near impossible task. As there are plastic particles, non-floating plastics and a non-stop supply of plastic going to the sea.
Estimates put the amount of plastic going into our oceans at over 12 million tons a year.
Yes. Each year.
Over 1 million seabirds die from plastic pollution every year, and it’s thought that 100% of baby sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs.
To add to these depressing stats, only 9% of all plastic is recycled.
And if you’ve ever wondered a beach after a busy day, or after a storm, you will have noticed that there is a phenomenal amount of plastic on the tideline. From packaging to pieces of rope, and much more.
So what can you do to help?
Pick up what you can
Most people collect shells and stones when they go to the beach. If you want to do something helpful, take as much beach plastic with you when you go.
Take a spare carrier bag and spend 5 or ten minutes collecting whatever plastic you can see. Most likely you will find a very large bag full in just a few minutes.
Also, be sure to take home whatever plastic you take to the beach, including food wrappings, toys and other items.
Volunteer for beach cleaning
There are a number of initiatives to pick up sea plastics from our beaches, including Surfers Against Sewage’s Million Mile Clean.
Devon Environment also offer a number of ways for people to get involved with cleaning up local beaches and removing plastics.
So if you want to keep our beaches beautiful, and do your bit to reduce ocean plastics, volunteer for a beach clean, or pick up what you can!