Planet vs. Plastic – Earth Day 2024

22 Apr 2024

Each year on 22nd April, the global community comes together to mark Earth Day, the largest civic-focused day of action in the world. The theme for 2024 is ‘Planet vs. Plastic’ and there are plenty of steps we can all take that will all add up to making a big difference.

Plastic pollution in the ocean is a hot topic in today’s media, and although divers and snorkellers and local communities are constantly taking part in reef and beach clean-ups all over the world, this is not enough – we need to prevent it from getting there in the first place. Once in the ocean, the plastic remains there for hundreds of years and when it finally breaks down (after about 450 years for a plastic water bottle) the smaller fragments become the invisible threat. The tiny pieces of plastic, known as microplastics, as well as coming from broken down larger items, also originate from small beads found in some soaps, toothpaste and body scrubs to name but a few, and microfibres from synthetic clothing or fishing nets. These microplastics can release harmful chemicals such as flame retardants, dyes and pesticides into the ocean, causing damage that we can’t see.

Marine life can become entangled in plastic discarded in the ocean, and we have seen first hand the devastation that discarded fishing nets, known as ghost nets, can do. Plastic bags can be mistaken for jellyfish – a favourite amongst sea turtles, or ingested indirectly after it becomes part of the food chain when absorbed by smaller organisms.

Our land and oceans are connected, what we do on land directly impacts the oceans and the health of the oceans affects life on land.

A great quote from Marine Biologist, Sylvia Earle, sums up perfectly the importance of looking after the ocean:
‘No water, no life. No blue, no green’

Make a pledge to take these 7 steps, not just for the 7 tenths that is ocean but for the whole planet:

– Say no to straws
– Use washable bags for grocery shopping
– Give up chewing gum
– Choose products in boxes rather than bottles
– Buy in bulk to reduce single wrappers
– Use a wooden toothbrush
– Buy fresh and local produce – it’s often packaging-free or wrapped in paper