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Published January 21st 2016
You can help to clean up our plastic oceans
Next time you are at the beach, river or lake and have something to throw away, like a plastic bag or water bottle, stop and think about where it is going. One piece of rubbish can have a devastating impact, particularly in our waterways.
A recent report by the World Economic Forum says that eight million tonnes of plastic leak in to the ocean every year. That is the equivalent of a garbage truck load of waste every minute. If this is not alarming enough the report also estimates that the world's oceans will contain more plastics than fish, by weight, by 2050.
The numbers are so large they are almost incomprehensible. It is an upsetting thought particularly as the problem seems so preventable. If we all disposed of our plastics correctly they wouldn't wash down our drains, into our rivers and then out to the ocean.
Yet the problem is further magnified because plastic takes hundreds of years to break down and it can travel in the ocean all the way to other countries. Here's a scary estimate for you - if you put all the plastic floating in the ocean together you'd have an area the size of the USA and India combined.
In fact there is so much plastic going in to the ocean that scientists are predicting that 96 % of all marine wildlife will have plastic inside it within 50 years.
(Image credit: Take 3 website)
This is because as the plastic breaks down it can be mistaken for food and kill our marine animals and birds. A single plastic bottle in the ocean can break down into over 10000 pieces of microplastic and be ingested by marine animals. Plastic bags are easily mistaken for jellyfish and are often eaten by turtles.
Here in Sydney, Taronga Zoo is seeing increasing numbers of turtles, penguins and other sea creatures killed or seriously injured from swallowing or becoming entangled in plastic that is washed out to sea.
It is difficult and expensive to clean up rubbish in the ocean. but one thing we can do is recycle our plastic bottles, reduce the number of plastic shopping bags we use and put our rubbish in the bin.
(Image Credit: Take 3 website)
We can help further by taking on board the Take 3 Campaign. Take 3 is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to raise awareness of plastic pollution. This is an Australian initiative that asks everyone to remove 3 pieces of litter after each visit to the beach, river or waterway.
The message is simple and it is something we can all easily do to make a difference.
For more information about the programs provided by Take 3 you can head to their website here. Or you can follow on Instagram.
If you love our clean beaches, rivers and lakes in Australia, and want to keep them this way and protect our marine animals, remember to Take 3 on your next visit to the water.