International Coastal Clean-Up Day
Ocean pollution is an ever increasing problem that is detrimental to the health of mankind. Every year more than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans. This plastic and other forms of pollution are ending up in our marine life, it’s making its way into our food chain and creating an imbalance in our ecosystem. Every thing from the tiniest of planktons to the largest blue whales each play a vital role in the Earths largest ecosystem. The balancing act these creatures orchestrate has been formed over billions of years and is now at the brink of destruction. Humans are now initiating the earth’s 6th mass extinction with turtles, dolphins, sharks and whales constantly ranking higher and higher on the list of critically endangered species. Every day a creature washes up on shore with a stomach full of trash, everything from small flowerpots, to rope and fishing lines, plastic bags, beer cans, razors, toothbrushes, you name it.
In addition to plastic pollution killing thousands of animals each year, we must also worry about the ingestion of micro plastics by the seafood that over a billion people depend on. Plastic is a material that does not dissolve or disappear, it only gets smaller. Each plastic bottle, bag, cutlery, and straw that you have used in your life is still on this planet in one way or another, multiple that by 7 billion people … well that is a lot of plastic. Over time as the plastic travels the seas ultraviolet light makes plastic brittle and wave action crushes it, breaking it down into microplastics, these micro plastics are then consumed by the fish we eat. In the ocean, plastic absorbs toxic chemicals like PCBs and DDTs—chemicals linked to endocrine disruption and even cancer. These toxic chemicals then work their way up the food chain from phytoplankton to tuna and exponentially increase in concentration. The United Nations Clean Seas Campaign estimates that there are 51 trillion microplastic particles in the oceans today, that is 500 times more than the number of stars in our galaxy. Plastic wreaks havoc on our fisheries, marine ecosystems and economies, costing up to $13 billion per year in environmental damage.
So, what are we doing to help clean up our oceans and what can you do to help reduce the amount of plastic that goes into our seas?
Well, this past weekend communities around the world helped celebrate International Coastal Clean-Up Day, and of course Soneva Fushi never misses out on a chance to clean the seas! Everywhere from India to California, UK to Maldives, Rhode Island to Jamaica hundreds of pounds of trash was removed from coastlines and beaches. Coastal Clean up day was established by the Ocean Conservancy, an organisation that works with the public to help protect the oceans from the greatest global challenges. They bring light to the issues that are poorly represented through social media, publications, and programs across the globe.
Our very own Island Warriors took a boat ride to the island of Thulhaadhoo together with over 100 volunteers to help clean their coastlines. Various beach cleans were organised all across the Maldives. In the Male atoll four main areas were cleaned over the course of a week:
1. Artificial Beach – The Good Riddance Project
2. Swimming track and Usfasgandu – Project Damage Control (DYM).
3. Viligili Water Sports Beach – Save the Beach and Nine Star Dive
4. Hulhumale’ Water Sports Beach and BBQ Area – Rotract Club
Exact tallies of how much trash was collected are still being processed.
In Mumbai 3,000 people cleaned up 3km of beach in just two hours collecting a total of …. 2.5kg of trash. This was the final day of a 100 week long clean that removed over 7 million kg of trash. Way to go Mumbai!
King Harbor, California collected 300 pounds of trash from Redondo Beach with the help of 155 volunteers. Thumbs up to you guys! Almost 55,000 volunteers across the state of California helped clean up about 510,000 pounds of trash from the state’s beaches, ocean, rivers, parks, lakes and other areas.
On average, more than 2,000 volunteers participate annually in the Rhode Island ICC at more than 80 sites, typically removing about 20,000 pounds of trash and debris. Over 700,000 volunteers across the globe take a stand against ocean trash by joining the ICC. Each individual is responsible for their actions, it is up to you wether you are going to make a difference or not.
Aquarium employees and volunteers collected 84.6 pounds of trash in just a 1/4 mile of the tampa beach in Florida, and guess what, it only took them 3 hours.. think of how much we could collect if we did this once a week…
These are just a few examples of the incredible work that was done in just one day in order to clean our oceans. But this is not enough, we must start today to stop the plastic from going into the seas in the first place, so, what can you do?
You can go #plasticfree today by refusing the top five sources of single use plastic: plastic bags, plastic bottles, straws, takeaway cups, and plastic to-go containers. Heck, even my mom has jumped on the bandwagon and bought beeswax food storage wraps to replace cling-wrap, and she just ordered a set of metal straws that fits easily in her purse. It might seem difficult to change your habits and inconvenient to be different than the majority of people, but if you don’t make the change now then who are you depending on to make the difference our world needs? Go ahead, challenge yourself, see how many days you can go plastic free.
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