Marine debris is any persistent, manufactured or processed solid material discarded, disposed of or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment. This includes consumer items such as glass or plastic bottles, cans, bags, balloons, rubber, metal, fiberglass, and cigarettes. It also includes fishing gear such as line, ropes, hooks, buoys and other materials lost or intentionally discarded at sea.
Marine debris is globally recognized as a monumental environmental concern. It is a danger to all marine life including birds, sharks, turtles, and marine mammals, causing injury or death through drowning, entanglement, or starvation following ingestion. Plastics make up a large part of the marine debris that is choking our oceans. Here are some tips on how you can help keep them out of our oceans:
Don’t forget the four R’s: REFUSE – REUSE – REDUCE – RECYCLE!
- Buy and reuse produce bags (preferably from cloth) instead of plastic bags.
- Don’t chew gum! Gum is made of synthetic rubber, which is also plastic.
- Refuse single-use plastic straws. If you need a straw to drink, carry your own reusable one instead.
- Purchase food from bulk bins as much as possible, using your own reusable containers.
- If you do have to buy containers for food, reuse those containers for storing left-overs or buying bulk.
- Get a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages. Most businesses will happily fill your own cup.
- Avoid buying frozen foods. They are almost always wrapped in plastic.
- Replace disposable diapers with cloth ones, as disposables contain a large amount of plastic. It is estimated that about 3.4 million metric tons of diapers are disposed of in the US alone every year.
- Use sustainable and nature-friendly soaps and cleaning products from companies like Dr. Bronner’s (who are also big Sea Shepherd supporters!) Often you can buy these products in bulk with your own containers.
- Avoid cleaning products with micro-beads. These micro-beads are often made of plastics.
- Make your own fresh squeezed juice instead of buying the bottles or cartons from the store, as even the cartons include plastic.
- Instead of disposable razors, use those with replaceable, recyclable blades.
- Plastic microfibers from synthetic clothing travel unseen from washing machines and into our waterways. Opt for clothing made from natural fibers like cotton and linen or use special washing bags like the Guppyfriend in your machine.
- Shop to Support! Check around your own home for containers, bags and other items you can reuse, or purchase reusable items — like bottles, mugs, cloth shopping bags, and Guppyfriend wash bags — from official Sea Shepherd Stores to help further support our marine conservation campaigns.
- Participate in your local beach or waterway clean-ups. Sea Shepherd groups around the world announce official beach clean-up events on their Facebook pages.
- Support Operation Clean Waves, our campaign that focuses on removing marine debris from isolated islands and the high seas – by making a donation today.