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#EcoWarriorChallenge - DAY 4 - Litter

We’re back with Day 4 of the #EcoWarriorChallenge - World Oceans Day Edition!  We’ve done so many amazing things for the planet this week already.

We said no to plastic straws to save sea turtles.
We refused plastic bags to protect coral reefs.
We rejected plastic bottles to support seabirds.

Give yourself a high-five, because just these three actions are HUGE for our environment and wildlife.

Today, we’re focusing on the ocean as a whole and stepping it up, but just a bit.

A Drop in the Ocean - #EcoWarriorChallenge Day 4 Litter

You’ve likely heard of the gyres of plastic floating around in the ocean, or at least the most notable Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  These gyres are massive areas of plastic collecting and swirling around, making a sort of “plastic soup.”

A Drop in the Ocean #EcoWarriorChallenge

Plastic does not biodegrade (decompose via bacteria and other microorganisms and return to nature).  Instead, it photodegrades, meaning that from the water and sun, plastic pieces break down into smaller and smaller pieces until they become microplastics (less than 5mm in diameter), but never actually go away.  Because plastic is a completely man-made substance, there are no natural processes to break it down. As plastics photodegrade, they are consumed by nearly all species - large and small - working their way into our food chains and eventually into our own bodies.  

Every piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists in some form.  When our waste is not properly disposed, it ends up in our waterways, and eventually into the ocean and one of these plastic gyres.  Approximately 80% of all marine debris originates from land-based sources.

By 2050, scientists estimate that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.

A Drop in the Ocean #EcoWarriorChallenge

I live in Ohio, many many miles from the ocean, and I recycle.  But the very qualities that made plastic so attractive 70 years ago are the same qualities that make it a nightmare today.  Lightweight and durable, plastic is inexpensive and lasts forever. Even if I don’t litter and I toss a plastic water bottle into a recycling bin, there is no guarantee that a gust of wind won’t take that bottle with it.  Into the street that bottle will go, making its way to the local Scioto River watershed, where it will travel to the Ohio River, and on to the Mississippi, eventually into the Gulf of Mexico and finally into the North Atlantic Gyre.  Recycling makes us feel good.  But there is no way for me to know whether my recycling actually made it to the recycling center.  And so, I assume that every piece of trash I find on the street is my own.

So today, I challenge you to be an #EcoWarrior by picking up three pieces of litter as you go throughout your day.  Three pieces may seem like a drop in the ocean, but if we do this every day, in less than three years we will each have removed 1,000 pieces of plastic from the ocean!  That’s amazing! The Australian-founded initiative Take 3 encourages us to do the same.

A Drop in the Ocean #EcoWarriorChallenge

So let’s do this!  Let’s go forth and protect our ocean ecosystems.  Let’s #Take3fortheSea together. Snap a photo with #EcoWarriorChallenge and #Take3fortheSea, and pay it forward to the ocean that has given us so much.  Our drops make up the ocean. 

Photo 1 | CBC News
Photo 2 | Will Turner on Unsplash
Photo 3 | John O'Nolan on Unsplash

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