With the devastation washing up on shores across the globe, we must all make a conscious effort to reduce ocean pollution. For some people, that means switching to stainless steel straws and for others, it’s about eliminating single-use plastic from their lifestyle. For 70-year-old grandmother, Pat Smith, her contribution was cleaning up the beaches around her home on the south coast of the United Kingdom. One year later, and she’s cleaned up a total of 52 local beaches.
Where It All Began
Like many people do at the end of the year, 70-year-old grandmother and founder of The Final Straw Cornwall, Pat Smith made a New Year’s Resolution. Unlike many of us who make resolutions to eat healthier or to quit a bad habit, Pam took hers to the next level of greatness, vowing to clean one beach on the United Kingdom’s south coast each week for the entire year.
It all began after hearing about the massive amount of plastic washing up on a local beach in her hometown of Cornwall, England. On her first outing, she was able to collect two black bags full of plastic debris in as little as two hours. It barely scratched the surface.
With 12 months behind her and 52 beaches cleaned, Pam has raked in dozens of trash bags and boxes filled with garbage. Everything from coffee cups to plastic bottles; cigarette butts, bags, fishing waste and everyday trash were amongst those items regularly collected. Pam estimates that both fishing boats and humans are equally responsible for ocean pollution.
The Ocean Pollution Epidemic
With a quick search online, you’ll find shocking photos of beaches all over the world that are layered with massive amounts of garbage. What used to be crystal clear waters and pristine, powdery sands are now manmade landfills. It’s an epidemic that’s destroying marine life and that will eventually destroy mankind as well.
Ocean pollution is caused by many things, from sewage to toxic chemical dumps, oil spills, mining, land runoff and littering, all of which are destroying much more than just popular vacation destinations. We are, quite literally, drowning marine ecosystems. It seems every day there’s a new news story about a whale washing up onshore with tonnes of plastic in its stomach, a turtle with a plastic straw stuck deep in its nostril or marine birds covered in slick oil.
The reality is, not having a beach to go to is the least of the problems and the impact is actually degrading marine life at an alarming rate, which drastically affects humankind in many ways. The chemicals leaking into the ocean can contaminate water supplies, which can contaminate animals who drink from them. The animals who then eat those animals also become contaminated, and eventually, this leads to human consumption of the same chemicals.
The same can be said about the plants that get nutrients from the soil that get nourishment from the rivers, streams or the sea; animals eat the contaminated plants; animals eat the contaminated animals and humans eat the contaminated animals. Water pollution also affects the vegetation humans grow and eat themselves. The chemical leaks can also cause dangerous health problems, such as reproductive issues, hormonal issues, damage to kidneys and your nervous systems, and many others serious concerns – and that’s only getting into the chemical leaks. Needless to say, it’s time to take action.
How You Can Save the Ocean
With over 70% of the planet being ocean, it’s imperative that we all follow in Pat Smith’s footsteps to make an effort to reduce ocean pollution. Here are some ways you can contribute:
- Reduce single-use plastic
- Avoid littering
- Purchase form ocean-friendly companies
- Make sustainable seafood choices
- Reduce energy consumption
- Use reusable water bottles and eco-friendly water filters
- Volunteer with a local clean-up organization
Without freshwater and clean beaches, humankind will quickly begin to decline. Fortunately, reducing ocean pollution is as simple as making a few small changes in your life or you can aspire to be like Pam and head out to clean some local beaches in your area. Every little bit helps.