The next time you decide to go grocery shopping, one of the best decisions you can make starts before you even enter the store. Choose to bring your own reusable bags with you so that you don’t have to use plastic bags. According to Environment Massachusetts, the average person uses about 300 plastic bags per year, and those plastic bags take a long time (sometimes 1,000 years!) to break down. These bags are petroleum-based, so they never biodegrade or disappear completely. Plastic bags are one of the most severe threats to our oceans and it is a problem that everyone can help resolve.
As stated on worldoceansday.org, June 8 was observed as World Oceans Day, but no matter what day it is and no matter where you live, we can all do something every day to help our oceans and make a difference. 85 percent of all sea turtles will be injured or killed by plastics in their lifetimes. It’s time for everyone to start to change this, clean up the plastic in our oceans and, ultimately, save marine life. More than 80 percent of the trash in our oceans comes from land-based sources. Plastic bags not only threaten sea birds and other marine life with entanglement, but many animals like sea turtles die from ingesting plastic bags, thinking they are food.
Sea turtles love to eat sea jellies, and when plastic bags get into the ocean, they look like tasty meals for turtles instead of deadly weapons. Once a turtle swallows plastic bags, it stays in their gut and prevents them from swallowing food. According to Dr. Kathy Townsend of the University of Queensland, sciencealert.com states that sea turtles have downward spines in their throats that prevent them from regurgitating the plastic, so they will eventually starve to death.
Every person can make a difference to help marine life, as we all affect the future of our planet. As stated on the Ocean Conservancy website, if 10,000 people decided to reduce their trash consumption for just one month, it would reduce the amount of litter on Earth by more than 1-million pounds.
I urge you all to start by pledging to reduce the plastics in our oceans by saying no to plastic bags at the grocery store. Bring your own reusable shopping bags; keep them in your car or by the front door so that you won’t forget them. Help clean up our oceans for the future! The most effective way to rid our oceans of plastic bags is to make sure they never get there in the first place! Some cities have helped by banning the use of plastic bags. Participating in beach cleanups, recycling, and purchasing foods with eco-friendly packaging can really help our oceans and the environment.
To take the online pledge to “fight trash for a health ocean,” click here!
Photos courtesy of Stefanie Schmidt