How We're Cleaning Up Plastic Waste with the Ocean Legacy Foundation
IN THIS ARTICLE:
- The history of plastics
- Plastics in our oceans
- About The Ocean Legacy Foundation
- Our partnership with The Ocean Legacy Foundation
- Final words
It’s no secret that the world has a plastic problem. I don’t mean to be alarmist, but the statistics about plastic can only be described as alarming. According to a 2019 article from National Geographic, 448 million tons of plastic was produced globally in 2015. That number is expected to double by 2050.
So how did we get ourselves into this situation?
The history of plastics
Belgian chemist, Leo Baekeland, is credited with inventing the world’s first 100% synthetic plastic, known as Bakelite, in 1907. With this invention, the modern plastics industry began. During World War II, the production of plastics increased dramatically. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was discovered in 1941 and polypropylene (PP) was discovered in 1954.
These are among the most popular types of plastic in use today.
PET is widely used for food and beverage containers. It’s also used as filling for furniture and pillows, in rugs and polyester clothing, among many other uses. It has the recycling symbol 1 and is the most recycled plastic.
PP is widely used for personal care and household product containers. It’s also used for upholstery fabrics, outdoor furniture, ropes, toys and more. It has the recycling symbol 5 and while it is recyclable, many recycling programs do not accept it.
These are just two popular types of plastics. There are many others that add value to our society, but they come at a cost.
Plastics in our oceans
It’s estimated that 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year. It’s a common misconception that much of the plastic in our oceans is from equipment discarded by fishing fleets. In fact, ocean plastics from marine activity are estimated to be between 10% and 30%, leaving 70%–90% of ocean plastics coming from land sources. Improper waste disposal plays a huge role in this.
Plastics that go to a landfill, instead of a recycling centre, can be blown away by the wind and end up in a river that connects to the ocean. A person could leave a disposable water bottle on the beach and the tide can carry it away. Some personal care products even contain tiny plastic beads that get washed down the drain and end up in the ocean.
No matter how plastic ends up in the ocean, the outcome is the same: sea creatures getting caught in discarded fishing nets; birds filling up on plastic waste instead of the nutrients they need to survive; and massive collections of debris like the Great Pacific Garbage Pile.
So what does The Ocean Legacy Foundation do to tackle this issue?
About The Ocean Legacy Foundation
The Ocean Legacy Foundation (OLF) is a globally-recognized, non-profit organization based in British Columbia, Canada. Their goal is to end ocean plastic waste using their four-pillar EPIC approach:
Education and Research: In order to solve a problem, you must first understand the problem. Through community engagement, youth outreach programs, their Marine Debris Solutions handbook and other initiatives, OLF provides access to information about the plastic crisis. With this knowledge, citizens can make informed decisions to help end plastic pollution.
Policy and Advocacy: Through collaboration with governments, non-government entities, organizations and volunteers, OLF helps to guide decision making and develop better programs and practices related to plastic pollution. This may include actions such as packaging restrictions, disposal guidelines and more.
Infrastructure Development: Without the proper infrastructure to manage waste, many countries are unable to properly dispose of excess plastic. OLF helps to develop new recycling technologies and plastic equity markets. In addition to reducing plastic waste, these infrastructure initiatives also create employment opportunities and support economic growth.
Cleanup and Restoration: With the help of local citizens and volunteers, OLF removes plastic and debris from shorelines to create a safer, healthier environment. Ample research and planning is completed prior to physical cleanups. To date, The Ocean Legacy Foundation has cleaned 146 kilometres of shoreline and collected 187,215 pounds of waste.
The Ocean Legacy Foundation takes a holistic approach to dealing with the plastic problem. As I’m sure you already know, I take a holistic approach to healing. And as a company with a deep commitment to sustainability, a partnership between OLF and Graydon Skincare seemed like a perfect match!
Our partnership with The Ocean Legacy Foundation
I would love nothing more than to help Ocean Legacy with a coastline cleanup. Perhaps that’s a Graydon team building activity for the future. But for now, we’re proud to donate $1 to the Ocean Legacy Foundation for every 30 mL bottle of Fullmoon Serum we sell. This money will be used to help fund cleanups in ecologically sensitive regions and reduce the amount of plastic that is harming our planet.
There’s no denying that plastic has its benefits, but the fact of the matter is that we have too much of it and we’re not disposing of it properly. While The Ocean Legacy Foundation’s EPIC initiative is imperative on a global scale, any small changes that you can make to reduce your plastic consumption are of equal value.
Please visit oceanlegacy.ca to learn more about their important work.
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Main image: jonathanfilskov-photography
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