We asked Arlette Diederiks Operations Manager, Europe of the charity Plastic oceans Europe about our impact on our oceans and how we can start the change needed for a plastic-free future.
Tell us how Plastic Oceans Europe started?
Plastic Oceans Europe is a branch of Plastic Oceans International, a US-based non-profit organisation famous for distributing the movie “A Plastic Ocean.” Plastic Oceans Europe is dedicated to ending plastic pollution within all marine and freshwater sources throughout the continent. We join the entire Plastic Oceans team in the effort to inform, inspire and incite action that can solve plastic pollution.
How can we help prevent ocean pollution due to plastics?
There are several ways in which you, as consumer, can do your part:
1.The first and most important thing you can do is to reduce your use of single-use plastics. So, use reusable items wherever and whenever you can (water bottle, food container, coffee mug, utensils, wrapping for food etc.).
2. Another easy and important thing you can do is to refuse plastic whenever possible. Say no to straws, lids, bags, spoons, freebies etc.
3. Shop in bulk and bring your own container or reusable produce bag.
4. Avoid items wrapped in excess plastic.
5. Review restaurants, cafes and companies that make a difference when it comes to using plastics in their everyday operations and give them public credit for their sustainable efforts.
6. Replace items used at home with non-plastic alternatives, such as toothbrushes, jars, toys).
7. Support bans and other legislative efforts by signing (online) petitions and/or writing emails and letters to local government bodies.
8. Avoid products containing microbeads. These are found in some face scrubs, toothpastes, and bodywashes, and they easily enter our oceans and waterways through our sewer systems, and affect hundreds of marine species.
9. Avoid synthetic fabrics as much as possible and opt for natural materials. Synthetic fibres shed microplastics with every wash, polluting our waterways in the same way microbeads do.
10. Support organisations that fight plastic pollution. These organisations rely on donations and cannot do their important work without your support.
Is it too late to reverse the damage done by plastic pollution to our seas?
Plastic pollution in our waterways is a very severe and widespread problem, posing threats to marine life and ecosystems and ultimately ourselves. We need healthy oceans to be able to survive. Luckily, there is hope and we can reverse a lot of damage already done. It won´t be easy though and it requires a fundamental change in how we think about production, use and disposal of products and packaging. We need to move away from the current make-use-dispose system to a circular system in which waste is reduced to a minimum and resources are re-used within the system.
How can we educate our children about plastic pollution?
Actions speak louder than words, and for children this is even more important. If you want to teach your children about the problem with plastics, start by setting the right example. For example, bring your own water bottles and snacks in your own containers. If they see a toy or snack wrapped in plastic, explain them why you won´t buy it for you and give them alternatives. Talk to them at home about what they can do themselves and do these activities with them, like picking up trash on the beach. This way they feel empowered and know they can make a difference. Show them documentaries about how beautiful our planet is so they will care about protecting it.
What are the most damaging and unseen plastic pollutants?
All microplastics, whether they come from bigger pieces of plastic that degraded into tinier pieces, or nurdles, microbeads and synthetic fibres. Microplastics are not only damaging, because they are ingested by all sorts of animals, they also absorb toxins from their environment, making them little toxic hotspots.
What are your hopes as a charity for the future?
We know that change is possible and that it is not yet too late to reverse some major damage already done. But we need to act now and we need to so on a grand scale. We as Plastic Oceans Europe will continue working and fighting for a world without plastic pollution and to be able to do this, we need your help. Please consider a donation, and if you are not in a position to do so, follow our social media (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter), share and like our posts and commit yourself to living with less single-use plastics.
At Georganics we are proud sponsors of Plastic Oceans Europe and recently donated a portion of our profits from Green Friday to their fantastic cause.
If you would like to donate to this amazing charity and help to reduce plastic pollution please follow this link.