Life in Plastic, Ain't So Fantastic | Marine Debris
Walking along the beach with the hazy horizon painted in a sunshine-pink glow, you never anticipate to see cigarette buds, plastic bottles and tires among the golden sand, glistening pebbles and pretty sea shells. Unfortunately, this is the norm around most of the world. It is particularly bad in Bahrain – whether this is due to ineffective dumping laws or our unlucky situation as an island in a gulf, we won’t know for sure.
Over the past decade, there has been growing recognition that the marine environment is under increasing stress from a combination of anthropogenic (human) and natural pressures. Over 60% of the world’s population lives within 60km of the coast and the development of coastal areas has dramatically altered the natural dynamics of coastal ecosystems. It is now necessary to understand of our role in impacting these ecosystems in order to sustain not only these habitats and species, but also our own health and security for future generations.
What’s the deal?
Every year an estimated 17 billion pounds of plastic winds its way into the ocean. If you are like me and can’t visualize that, imagine lining up five plastic bags of waste on every foot of coastline around the globe. Scary, huh?
Soon, there will be more plastic floating around in the sea than fish!
According to studies conducted in 2014, each person in Bahrain produces about 2.7kg worth of waste every day. Currently, our waste is collected and dumped in landfill sites, such as Askar, however these sites are on the verge of overfilling. As Bahrain is so small, finding new places to dump our waste is difficult. Soon we will be swimming in it.
Why should we care?
Over 70% of the Earth's surface is covered in water. No matter where you live, your life depends on the ocean. Seriously. If it wasn’t for the ocean, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat would be non-existent. The majestic sharks, playful dolphins and glittering schools of fish would have no home, and we wouldn’t have beautiful beaches to explore.
All this waste that flows into the ocean doesn’t just disappear as some of us would hope. Although a lot of litter congregates into large, floating islands of trash, the majority of ocean plastic breaks up into small (very small) “micro-plastics”. You may not be able to see them, but they are there. Buried into sand, into the Arctic ice, even in the seafood that you are eating. What is most worrying is that these micro-plastics have been found in freshwater lakes – is it raining micro-plastics too?!
Plastic, plastic everywhere
More than one million plastic bags are used every minute. Life in plastic, ain’t so fantastic…
Plastic is the biggest enemy of our time, one which even Superman can’t defeat. And just like all superhero stories, our enemy has some special powers. Plastic doesn’t degrade very quickly… if at all. Plastic also has a threatening ability to absorb and concentrate toxic pollutants. Scientists are worried about the consequences of this, such as poisoning, infertility and genetic disruption in marine life, and potentially in humans.
Marine debris can also kill and injure marine wildlife through ingestion or entanglement. How can you continue to use plastic bags after seeing whale after whale being washed up, stuffed with plastic?
RisING Above the Plastic Tide
Though it may seem like we are too late, that doesn’t mean we can’t do something to stop this rising tide of plastic. Here are some suggestions of ways you can help save our oceans.
1. Be Mindful
Reduce the effects of climate change by decreasing your carbon footprint by using energy saving light bulbs, walking instead of driving, or swapping to cleaner sources electricity. Also, think about recycling, using cloth bags instead of plastic and reusable glass bottles (which are healthier)!
In Bahrain a number of initiatives have started up. You can find recycle bins all over the island, help charities and even have a go at getting rewards for your plastic bottles with our first Green Machine! Check out this page to learn where to recycle in Bahrain.
2. LEARN MORE
Take 10 minutes out of your day to do some research about different ways you can help save our seas. The more you learn, the more you’ll want to help our planet. Make sure you then share that knowledge to inspire others!3.
3. Join IN
Whether you enjoy diving, swimming, or just relaxing on the beach, always clean up after yourself. You can socialize and make new friends by participating in local beach cleanups. If time is a problem, try your hand at the 2MinuteBeachClean initiative – take 2 minutes out of your day to pick up litter and make a litter monster to post on Instagram!
We also have them in Bahrain! Check out this beach cleanup I attended with CleanUp Bahrain!
Comment down below any other tips you have to save our seas!