We all want to enjoy clean beaches, however every beach, no matter how remote, will always have trash littering its shoreline. This debris is not only unsightly and potentially dangerous for us, it is also deadly for marine animals. Marine debris is defined as trash or other solid material which enters oceans and often washes up on beaches. Data collected from 10 years of beach clean-ups indicated that 80% of this debris comes from land-based sources.
Marine debris is estimated to affect 270 species worldwide, including 85% of all sea turtle species, 45% of all sea bird species, and 45% of marine mammal species. Ways this debris affects marine animals include ingestion, where they consume plastic bags, cigarette butts, and bottle cap, resulting in malnutrition or even starvation. Suffocation can also occur from plastic bags or plastic six pack holders, blocking passageways. Also entanglement can occur when common items like fishing line, strapping bands and six-pack rings impede the mobility of marine animals. Once entangled, animals have trouble eating, breathing or swimming, all of which can have fatal results
Marine debris is a symptom of a much larger water pollution problem caused by our everyday consumer lifestyle. Recognizing your role as part of the problem is the first step towards finding a solution. There are some basic lifestyle changes YOU can make including purchasing products with little or no packaging, and products made from recycled materials. By reducing the amount of waste created by reusing bags at the grocery store, reusing containers such as yoghurt pots or meat packs as Tupperware containers rather than using disposable materials, or reusing your beverage containers at coffee shops, bars, smoothie bars, rather than getting Styrofoam or plastic cups. You can also ensure that your trash is properly disposed of and that organic matter is used for compost. Finally you can recycle as much as possible and ensure that it is correctly removed. By spreading the word and making a conscientious effort to reduce your personal waste, our beaches could be that bit safer for us and the animals.