Today is World Oceans Day!
You *might* be asking what exactly IS World Oceans Day?! (or WOD to give it a slick abbreviation) Glad you asked! This whole initiative was spearheaded and backed by the United Nations since its inception at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development. And yes, much like Earth Day in April, this year’s edition is certainly the most important to date.
The main goal of WOD is to inform the public, businesses and governments of the impact of human activity on the world’s oceans, and build a worldwide movement of citizens on a mission to protect and manage our oceans sustainably.
That’s a cause we can get behind!
Since the awareness day was created almost 30 years ago, the situation has gotten much worse. The world’s oceans, which cover over 71% of Earth’s surface, are in crisis. Ocean temperatures are continuing to rise (caused by global warming), ocean acidity is increasing, and there will soon be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Yeah, it’s bad.
So what can we do? Is this problem fixable? It’s so easy to fall prey to climate fatigue. All we hear is how dire the situation is, so why bother? That’s what brings me here, to tell you you should bother. We should all give a damn…give a bunch of damns because the only other option is to just sit idly by as the climate crisis worsens. There are changes we can ALL do to be our own superhero and save the world…
1. Take climate action and do your best to reduce global warming
You thought we were going to start with plastic waste, right? Well, as important as plastic pollution is (we’ll get to that in a bit), nothing is harming the oceans and sea life more than global warming.
Our oceans absorb a huge amount of the excess heat from the sun – heat that is trapped from greenhouse gas emissions (such as CO2 and methane); this leads to rising ocean temperatures. Essentially, the more we emit these emissions, the hotter our oceans will get. In fact, the average global sea surface temperature has increased by 1.5oF since 1901 (an average rate of 0.13 oF per decade). That might not sound like a lot, but it makes a BIG difference for sea life. Rising ocean temperatures wreak havoc with marine species and ecosystems. This warming also causes coral bleaching and the loss of breeding grounds for all sorts of marine life and mammals.
So if you want to start somewhere to protect our oceans, start looking at your carbon footprint and the carbon footprint of the businesses you buy from as a consumer. There are some very simple things you can do to significantly reduce your carbon footprint, for example:
2. Avoid single use plastic
Yes, this is one issue no one can ignore. We’ve all seen the heart-breaking footage and images of sea life drowning in plastic. And as we said earlier, there will soon be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Earth’s oceans currently hold over 150 million tonnes of plastic. If we allow this wasteful approach to continue, our oceans will contain one tonne of plastic for every three tons of fish by 2025. Continuing on that course, plastic will overtake fish by 2050.
So grim to think about.
There are so many ways we can reduce our plastic waste. One of the key recommendations from the controversial documentary Seaspiracy is ‘stop eating fish’ as fishing nets, equipment and industry waste make up over 46% of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Certainly some food for thought there!
But that’s not the only way. There are simple steps you can take to reduce your ‘plastic footprint’ every day. Easy tips include:
- Get a ‘keep cup’ or reusable coffee cup (The UK alone gets through 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year)
- Get a refillable water bottle and avoid single-use plastic bottles
- Say no to plastic straws
- Get your cosmetics, beauty products, shampoo etc. from brands that have refillable/reusable containers (like LUSH and Beauty Kitchen)
- Avoid excessive food packaging (opt for loose veg and fruit if possible)
- Avoid disposable plastic cutlery
- Carry your own shopping back (tote bags are awesome)
3. Raise awareness, talk about it, show the world you care about WOD
One of the best things you can do is use your voice. Whether that’s online, in-person with friends and family, or at work, or with clients/business partners. The more people realise how important our oceans are, the easier it will be to protect them.
It’s often about perspective.
For example, as soon as people realise how little freshwater there is on earth, their opinions start to change. This fantastic illustration shows us how precious our oceans, lakes and rivers are. It’s not an infinite resource we can keep plundering, and as you can see in the image, the accessible fresh water in the world is shockingly low.
By all means, show them this image, or share an article about rising ocean temperatures or plastic pollution. Even if you just reach one person, it’s worth it. As the UN has said, the goal of WOD is to create a movement of citizens – let’s be part of that together, starting today.
So those are our top three tips! Easy peasy! If every single one of us started to consume more responsibly and did those small changes, our oceans would thank us. There are lots more stats and tips to talk about, so if you have any you want to share with our team, make sure you holla if you want to help change the world together!
And to learn more about our projects that help reduce environmental impact, check out this case study from our work with LUSH: An app to save our oceans.
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