Gatis Sluka, Latvijas Avize, Latvia
Friday, June 8, 2018
This Friday is World Oceans Day! Designated in 2008 by the United Nations as a day to celebrate, protect, and honor the great big blue ocean we all love (and need to sustain life on earth). We can all get involved — very easily — because this year's theme is plastic pollution. Right now you can do the following:
Ditch the Straw
Every day, over 500 million plastic straws are tossed out in the U.S. They blow in the wind, eventually to the ocean, where fish, seabirds, turtles mistake them for food. They do not biodegrade or dissolve in the ocean but break down into smaller and smaller microplastics that remain for hundreds of years. When you order a drink, remember to say "No straws please!" (You have to ask while you're ordering, once it's brought to you, it's too late.) Some restaurants are placing placards on tables telling customers they have to ask for a straw if they want one).
(Use Your Noodles!)
A new idea being adopted by forward-thinking restaurants (at least Italian ones): use long, thin, tubular pasta as straws! The word is that drinks are cold, so “pasta paste” isn’t created. Try it — noodle straws — molto bene!
Lastly, bring your own reusable straw made of metal, glass or bamboo … or that big, long noodle!
Reject the Plastic Bottle
This is a no-brainer! By the time you're drinking water out of a plastic bottle it's been shipped in hot trucks and/or container ships, and often they're exhibited outside grocery store entrances on big stacks of palettes, in the sun. All this means the water you're drinking out of these things has been cooked in plastic — UGH! Use a flask instead. They come in great colors and designs - and are WAY cooler than a plastic water bottle. While you're at it, buy products in glass containers.
Filter Your Fleece
We thought fleece jackets were so fabulous when they came booming onto the market - what a great way to use old plastic bottles! Ooooh, and they're soft and warm. Wait a minute, what? It turns out that such garments — and blankets — are sources of microfiber pollution — shed from synthetic garments such as nylon, polyester, or acrylic. The fibers shed in the washing machine, go down the drain, and wastewater treatment systems can't always catch them. They end up in the stomachs of sea animals and work their way up the food chain into humans. (Holy cow!) We'd say consider dry cleaning, but this will melt your jacket! So it's back to washing. Solution? Throw these items into a fiber filter bag before washing. The bag (available from specialty stores) collects the microfibers (like lint!), you can scoop this lint out of the bag and discard with care.
Check the Cosmetics
"Experience a micro-burst for glowing skin!" "Scrubbing beads will transform you!" etc. Microbeads, which share the same bad genes with microfibers, may scrub your skin smooth or, used in toothpaste, make your teeth white, but they are plastic — and even more lethal to ocean life — because they resemble plankton. Microbeads have been banned in the U.S. (Microbead-Free Waters Act passed in 2015), but cosmetics containing them are still being phased out and you will still find such cosmetics for sale. Starting July 1, 2018, the microbead law bans rinse-off cosmetics in interstate commerce and also stops the manufacture of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals containing microbeads. So, don't buy microbead products! Try a loofah sponge instead … (a natural one of course)!
There! You have all these useful ways to participate in World Oceans Day — every day!