The Blog Aquatic » trash free seas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 You’re Invited http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/25/youre-invited/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/25/youre-invited/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 13:49:07 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9085

 

It’s time to make a difference!

On Saturday, September 20th, Ocean Conservancy is hosting the International Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers around the world are gathering to remove trash from their beaches and waterways. And you’re invited!

The Cleanup is so important for a healthy ocean. Last year, volunteers collected a record-breaking 13.6 million items of trash. With your help, we can collect even more.

But having more trash on our beaches to pick up is not a thing to celebrate. The sad truth is that our beaches and waterways are polluted and littered with trash. This summer as millions of Americans head to the beach, they’ll encounter plastic bottle caps, straws, cigarette butts and more.

That’s why we need to work together to stop the flow of trash before it has a chance to reach the water to choke and entangle dolphins, endanger sea turtles, ruin our beaches, and depress our local economies.

Tell us you’ll join us at this year’s International Coastal Clean Up.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll be directed to our Cleanup map, where you can find the details for a cleanup near you.

I can’t wait to see you at the International Coastal Cleanup this September!

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The Five Myths (and Truths) About Plastic Pollution in Our Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/17/the-five-myths-and-truths-about-plastic-pollution-in-our-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/17/the-five-myths-and-truths-about-plastic-pollution-in-our-ocean/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 18:00:39 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8754

Photo by John Kieser

As the Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Program, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people who care about the ocean and are making a difference for the communities that depend on it. However, I’m always surprised by the number of misconceptions about ocean plastics.

With many people visiting the beach this summer, not to mention all the coverage that ocean plastics has received recently, it’s a great opportunity to clear up some of these myths:

  1. Myth: There are floating islands of plastics in every ocean.
    Fact: Only a small percentage of ocean plastics float at the sea surface.Most plastics are dispersed throughout the water column, resting on the seafloor, trapped in Arctic ice, or inside ocean animals. The plastic gyres you hear about in the news are primarily composed of tiny plastic particles that are the degraded fragments of their original form (i.e., bottles, containers, toys)—many are the size of a grain of rice. 
  2. Myth: Ocean plastic primarily comes from ocean dumping and industry, such as cruise ships or container ships. .
    Fact: Most of the plastics in the ocean come from items we use every day—bags, bottles, caps, food containers, etc. By limiting single-use plastics in our everyday lives and disposing of these items properly, we can reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean. 
  3. Myth: Ocean trash gyres, large areas of the ocean where currents concentrate trash, can simply be cleaned out of existence.
    Fact: While some surface trash can be cleaned, many plastics break down and become dispersed. Only a small percentage of total ocean plastics inputs rest at the surface. The rest is distributed throughout the ocean or winds up inside animals. We don’t have a realistic, efficient way to remove these plastics from the system (yet).
  4. Myth: Ocean plastics are just a trash problem.
    Fact: Plastic particles are now found inside animals and throughout the ocean food chain—from mussels to fish to turtles to whales. 
  5. Myth: There is one, simple solution capable of solving our ocean plastics problem.
    Fact: Bans, fees, recycling nor product redesign alone can fix this. The ultimate solution is a combination of all of these and more. The biggest impact will come from stopping the massive amounts of plastic litter before it travels over land, and into our waterways and ocean.

With all this in mind, you might be thinking—what can I do to make a difference? You can sign up to clean your local beach or waterway by joining Ocean Conservancy in the International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday, September 20. You’ll be among hundreds of thousands of volunteers working towards a cleaner ocean.

Cleanups alone can’t solve this problem, but volunteers are instrumental in helping us assemble our Ocean Trash Index. This provides us with a snapshot of what’s trashing our ocean so we can work towards preventing the most abundant and problematic items of trash from reaching the water in the first place.

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Declare Your Independence from Plastic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/03/declare-your-independence-from-plastic/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/03/declare-your-independence-from-plastic/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:00:17 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8705

Photo: Ocean Conservancy

Trash has infiltrated all reaches of our ocean from our coastlines to the deepest depths. This Fourth of July, declare your independence from plastic and help reduce marine debris! Here are 10 easy ways you can free yourself from unnecessary plastics:

  1. It’s easy to skip the straw when you’re at a sit down restaurant. By simply asking your waiter to hold the straw, you can prevent another piece of plastic from ending up on our beaches or in the ocean
  2. When you throw away (or preferably recycle) a plastic bottle, keep the bottle cap on. This prevents it from escaping the bin and ending up in the ocean. Bottle caps are buoyant plastics that can be consumed by seabirds, marine life and other animals.
  3. Plastic bags pose a serious threat to ocean wildlife. Sea turtles can mistake them for jellies, their favorite snack. Bring a reusable bag with you whenever and wherever you go shopping.
  4. Try only using trashcans and recycling bins that are sealed or have a top. Don’t let the wind blow away your green deed of the day.
  5. Use a reusable mug or bottle when you’re on the go. Some coffee shops will even fill it for a discount. Save some cash by saving the ocean.
  6. Cigarette butts have been the most common item of trash found on beaches every year since the International Coastal Cleanup began in 1986. Volunteers collected over 2 million in 2013 alone. If you need a smoke break while on the beach, be sure to take your butt with you and dispose of it properly once off the sand.
  7. Ask your favorite to-go place to leave the bag, plastic utensils and napkins behind. And give those food containers a second life by storing all the random stuff you have but don’t know where to put.
  8. Check out some Pinterest DIY tips or YouTube tutorials on how to turn extra plastics into your favorite accessories or decorations.
  9. Take part in the International Coastal Cleanup to rid your local beach,  shoreline or waterway of trash.
  10. Share this with your friends to help them declare their independence from plastic!
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Illinois Takes a Big Stand on Tiny Plastics http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/17/illinois-takes-a-big-stand-on-tiny-plastics/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/17/illinois-takes-a-big-stand-on-tiny-plastics/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 15:10:38 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8565

© Peter Hoffman / Aurora Photos

Last week, Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn signed state-wide legislation banning the manufacture and sale of cosmetic products containing synthetic microbeads. This legislation made Illinois the first state to take action against the harmful plastics, which are used as exfoliants in many personal care products including soaps, toothpastes and cleansers.

Governor Quinn’s strong stance against microbeads in cosmetics has major implications for the health of our ocean. All too frequently, these plastic bits find their way into the ocean where they pollute the water and are accidentally ingested by fish. Banning their manufacture and sale brings us one step closer to the trash free seas (and lakes) we deserve.

The Illinois microbead-ban isn’t in full effect until 2019, though several companies are working to phase out the tiny plastic particles before then. Until that time, consumers wishing to purchase products without microbeads should avoid items containing “polyethylene” or “polypropylene” in the ingredients list.

Illinois’ legislation is part of a greater trend towards limiting our consumption of single-use plastics. Four other states are considering similar bills, and several other states and cities have successfully implemented bag-bans/bag-taxes.

These policies are important for helping to regulate how much plastic we use, and subsequently how much plastic ends up in the ocean. I’m thrilled to see leaders in public office taking a stand against ocean trash, and I look forward to seeing a future where less plastic enters our ocean.

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Did You Miss Our Ocean Google Hangout? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/22/did-you-miss-our-ocean-google-hangout/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/22/did-you-miss-our-ocean-google-hangout/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 14:26:53 +0000 Michelle Frey http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8359 As part of the launch campaign for the 2014 Trash Free Seas Data Report, Ocean Conservancy hosted its first-ever Google Hangout! In case you missed it, the broadcast has been archived to our YouTube page here:

And don’t forget to check out the full report on our website.

More about the Ocean Google Hangout:

Trash has infiltrated all reaches of our ocean, causing negative impacts on ocean life and coastal communities. The problem can seem overwhelming, but it is preventable. Ocean Conservancy held a conversation about trash and the ocean. We talked about the ‘just-released’ findings from Ocean Conservancy’s 2013 International Coastal Cleanup. And we heard from a leading scientist and waste management expert about where the solutions to this problem lie. Watch the video and you’ll learn what we’ve discovered, what does it all means and what we can do next?

Moderator:

George Leonard is Chief Scientist at Ocean Conservancy. A long-time scuba diver, George has worked on a range of ocean-related issues including marine debris, sustainable seafood and marine protected areas. During his graduate work, he logged over 400 dives in 3 years studying California’s kelp forests, the undersea equivalent of tropical rain forests.

Speakers:

Nick Mallos is a Conservation Biologist and Marine Debris Specialist at Ocean Conservancy. His travels take him around the world, showing him the final resting place of trash generated by our disposable culture. Nick’s work is designed to help people around the globe work to protect our blue planet. He is also an avid surfer and works hard to catch a wave wherever his travels take him.

Chelsea Rochman has her BS in Biology from UCSD and recently received her PhD in Marine Ecology from UC Davis and San Diego State in 2013. She is currently researching the fate and toxicity of plastic debris in freshwater and marine habitats. Specifically, her expertise is in the sorption of priority pollutants (pesticides, trace metals, flame retardants, and plastic additives) to plastic debris and from plastic debris in aquatic habitats and the fate and toxicity of this debris in marine organisms. In addition to researching plastic debris in coastal habitats, she has experience researching debris in the North Pacific Gyre and the South Atlantic Gyre as part of separate research cruises.

Ted Siegler has 40 years of experience working on solid waste management issues. He served for 15 years as Technical Consultant to the American Plastics Council on increasing the recovery of plastics for recycling, and has spent the past 20 years working on capacity building for local and central governments in 14 countries around the world. Ted specializes in recycling collection and processing, economic analysis, and municipal finance and has been with DSM Environmental Services, Inc. since 1987. DSM specializes in waste reduction and recycling issues for municipal and state governments.

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