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Recycling – dealing with waste at sea 

More and more people are inhabiting our beautiful planet, which means that more waste is produced daily. Recycling is the proper way to deal with the problem, but how effective is it in reality?

https://comfyliving.net/recycling-statistics/ from ComfyLiving.net tell a sad story of only 13% of trash being recycled in 2020. When we realize that recycling a 3-foot stack of newspapers can save one tree, we realize the power recycling has.

Items That Can and Can’t Be Recycled

It’s almost always possible to recycle certain materials

  • Glass 
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Juice and milk cartons 
  • All plastic bottles, without lids
  • Steel and aluminum cans 
  • Organic materials 
  • Textiles 

When it comes to technology, some parts can be recycled, but they demand extra care:

  • Batteries
  • Mobile phones
  • Scrap metal 
  • Printer cartridges 
  • Household chemicals
  • Medicine 

It’s best to consult with the proper pickup services when recycling these items. 

Unfortunately, there are items that can’t be recycled, even though they’re made of recyclable materials: 

  • Styrofoam 
  • Bubble wrap
  • Cords 
  • Empty aerosols 
  • Grocery bags
  • Mirrors 
  • Medical needles
  • Toys
  • Dishes

Many of these items end up in rivers, which pick up the trash and take it to the ocean. As a result, the ocean and the life in it suffer from pollution. By 2050, the ocean will probably contain more plastic than fish.

Waste in the Ocean

Every year, 5 to 13 tons of plastic waste ends up in our ocean. The top 10 items collected on International Coastal Cleanup Day in 2017 are the following:

  • Cigarette butts with plastic filters
  • Food wrappers
  • Plastic bottles 
  • Bottle caps
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Other plastic bags
  • Straws
  • Plastic take-out containers
  • Plastic lids
  • Foam take-out containers

There are also some items reaching the sea that make you wonder how they even got there, such as mattresses, toilets, and hair extensions.

It appears that International Coastal Cleanup Day needs to happen at least once a week. Many of the items found take decades to degrade naturally. But where does the plastic come from? 

Where Does the Trash Come From

There are two primary sources of marine waste: land-based and sea-based. Land-based marine waste originates from landfills and littering on beaches and in floodwaters, industrial emissions, untreated municipal sewers, and discharge from storms. Sea-based waste comes from illegal or accidental dumping at sea (e.g., shipments and tourism) and offshore mining.

Consequences of Ocean Pollution

One of the most significant consequences of ocean pollution is endangering sea habitats, such as coral reefs and seagrass beds. Unfortunately, the wildlife in and around the waters isn’t spared either. Sea turtles, whales, fish, and birds all consume the waste. Since this waste has no nutritional value, it causes them to die slowly and painfully—if they don’t end up on our plates. If they do, the toxins they ingested enter our food chain.

Another side effect is a decrease in the economic value and productivity of coastal regions, especially when it comes to the seafood industry and tourism. The latest reports on the US Ocean and Great Lakes Economy show that employment from the ocean economy grew 2.7%, compared to the national average employment growth, 1.7% in 2016. Tourism and recreation was the top employer. But will this trend continue if beaches become more and more polluted?

Best Ways to Deal with Ocean Waste

Marine debris is a human-made problem, which means humans must tackle it. Cleaning out the oceans is one solution, but it’s costly, and not all countries with coastlines can take on such an enormous task. This shows that the problem must be addressed in the very beginning, which means affecting and changing human behavior. 

Every person on the planet can devote a little time and effort to contribute to less ocean pollution. These actions don’t demand a significant life change: 

  • Replace plastic straws with metal ones
  • Switch plastic bags for fabric-made ones
  • Replace plastic Tupperware with metal or glass
  • Avoid cosmetics that contain microplastics
  • Start to recycle

When you find yourself on the ocean, don’t throw any trash overboard. Keep your possessions secured in case the sea gets rough, and cut up items that can act as a noose for wildlife (like six-pack rings) before you discard them.

An additional action you can take that helps the ocean is support plastic straw bans. Stay informed, spread the word, and don’t forget to support organizations that are working on reducing ocean pollution.

To Conclude

Recycling remains one of the essential ways in which you can help save the ocean and other parts of nature. Oceans cover 71% of the planet, and it’s up to us to do everything we can to stop ocean pollution. If we work together and set cleaning the ocean as our goal, our planet will reward us tenfold.

Source: Content Strategist | Comfy Living