At Lil Helper, it’s no secret we care about the environment. From cloth diapers, to reusable snack bags and menstrual products, we are all about reducing waste. That’s why, for World Ocean Day, we wanted to spotlight an organization doing great work to protect the environment. We talked to Natasha Tucker, Executive Director of Plastic Oceans Canada, about what we can all do to help save our Oceans now. Here is what she had to say.
What is Plastic Oceans Canada?
Plastic Oceans Canada is an extension of the international organization, Plastic Oceans, based out of the US. To date, there are 5 branches, including the Canadian and US branches as well as in Mexico, Chile and Europe. The organization began in 2016 when a documentary, A Plastic Ocean, was released. The organization's mission is to inform, inspire, and incite action to solve plastic pollution by focusing on four key pillars; activism, advocacy, education and science.
What Can People Do to Help Protect the Ocean?
There are so many ways to help protect the oceans. I'll break it down by our four pillars:
Get involved with shoreline cleanups, even if you don't live near a "shore". All drains run to our waterways and any litter can easily find its way to water as well. Shoreline cleanups do not necessarily need to be organized events. If you're out for a walk, bring along some gloves and a container and pick up what you see along the way. Bonus points if your container is reusable, and you try to recycle or repurpose your findings! As the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure! By doing this, you're actually contributing to promoting a circular economy and diverting this waste from the landfill (where, let's be honest, it is destined to end up back in our environment).
Eliminate single-use plastics from your life by making more sustainable swaps. My biggest piece of advice is to do this one by one as it's needed instead of a big (overwhelming!) overhaul. Need a new toothbrush? Grab a bamboo one with compostable bristles! Ran out of shampoo/conditioner/soap? There are so many local makers who make fantastic, package-free alternatives. We are so lucky to live in a time where plastic packaging is becoming less and less, let's keep speaking up with our dollars to advocate for more of this!
Be mindful of the food you consume, specifically fish. As many are aware due to the recent sensational documentary, Seaspiracy, the fishing industry has a long way to go when it comes to balancing the health of our oceans and sustainable business practices.
Support new circular economy initiatives dedicated to creating change on a mass scale by encouraging large corporations to focus on reusable packaging.
Support the initiatives of Plastic Oceans Canada by making a monthly or one-time donation
Speak up to your officials in your area about the harmful effects of single-use plastic. You can even draft letters to MP's, local restaurants and dental clinics here
Vote for single-use plastic elimination with your dollar by choosing more sustainable, plastic-free options whenever possible
When it comes time to vote, educate yourself on the agendas of the politicians and vote accordingly for those focused on protecting our environment.
Become aware of the harmful effects of single-use plastics and how to avoid them. Here's a little crash course!
If you're looking for ways to create your own alternative products at home, there are many recipes online to do so.
For example, check out how to create your own composting system at home here.
Trust in the people who have dedicated their professions to solving this problem through tireless study and research. These are the experts we need to be listening to!
Why can’t I just recycle my plastic? Isn’t that enough?
Recycling plastic initially was seen as a way to use plastic once and know it was getting reused. However, with recent studies showing that less than 10% of plastics actually get recycled this is simply not an effective way to manage our plastics. The value of plastic varies depending on a variety of factors such as how many times it has been recycled, type of plastic, and even the color. As a result, many "undesirable" plastics are doomed for a life in landfill, or worse, in our oceans.
With 90% of the world's plastic not being recycled, it is often carried to our environment through the wind. This is critical to remember as even if you do your best to recycle plastics, think that only 1 of every 10 items will actually be recycled, and the rest has a very good chance of ending up in our environment. This is why we suggest recycling as the very last resort, and instead focusing on refusal of plastics when possible, and reduction.
The Ocean Impacts Us All
Many people feel that they need to live near the ocean to be connected to it, but we are all connected to the ocean in some way. The ocean is full of mysterious creatures, expansive ecosystems and is key to our livelihood as humans. A healthy ocean directly impacts our ability to lead healthy lives as humans and the more polluted it becomes, the more devastating the effects on humankind.
Together, we can create a healthier ocean for a healthier you
Want to learn more about how you can help save our oceans? Check out our tips on simple, single use swaps here, and Plastic Oceans Canada for more information.
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