5 facts about ocean pollution

Ocean pollution seems like an issue very far from home, even if you live nearer the coast than most. It’s natural to think that ocean pollution doesn’t come from those living inland or affects them. After all, how could our actions at home make a difference in the ocean? We know that pollution in the ocean is harmful, but in this blog, we’ll discuss how it is caused, and impacts everyone – no matter where you live.

Oil spillages in the ocean 

Headlines are really good at announcing huge corporate oil spillages around the world. We’re glad they do too, it highlights just another reason to stop depending on oil. As a species, we feel we rely on oil far too much anyway. But did you know that these headline oil spills only account for 12% of the oil in the ocean? 36% of it comes from runoff sources from cities and companies, including the sides of our roads. 

Oil spill on a beach with oil skimmers in background.

If there is an oil spill on the road, the likelihood is that a lot of it will run off into the surrounding areas. Perhaps into our drains, potentially into local soil and subsequently, rivers and lakes. So, if you want to try and help protect our oceans from oil, depending on it less is a good place to start but also safely clean any spills you create. 

Other pollution in our ocean 

It may come as a surprise, but in the Pacific Ocean, there is a garbage patch the size of Texas floating around. Sadly, it’s not the only garbage patch in the world and where currents meet there are tonnes of them all varying in size. 37% of ocean litter – like these patches comes directly from the public which is why we urge everyone to reduce their waste first. 

Plastic garbage patch pollutes the ocean

On the face of it, it’s all very simple. To reduce ocean pollution we must create less waste. Sorting into bins, litter picking, and beach cleaning – they’re all great secondary measures. But the only way to make sure your rubbish doesn’t end up anywhere near a garbage patch is to not make it in the first place. 

Litter on our beaches 

Beach cleans have increased in popularity in recent years and they’re proving effective. Slowly but surely, we’re clawing back our coastline from the pollutive nightmare. In 2021 a survey was conducted as to what is being found on our coastlines. The most popular item are small pieces of plastic, then cigarette butts, then packets of sweets, crisps, sandwiches and lollies, and finally plastic caps and lids. It’s clear that when you package these all together the problem comes from ‘on-the-go’ food items. Picnics, meal deals, a stroll along the coast with an ice lolly. 

Heavy pollution on the beach

It’s important to note that we’re not suggesting day-trippers are to blame for all of this. Any litter from inland can end up on our coastline thanks to mother nature. Streams and winds can carry litter far out to the coast. But perhaps the next time you take any food out with you – consider if the bin you’re putting it in is the best option. Could you ensure it’s safely disposed of at home instead of leaving it in a tied-up bag next to an overflowing beach or park bin? 

The ocean is our friend in fighting climate change 

The ocean is more than a home for wildlife. It helps us fight climate change too. Where the ocean meets air meets the water, CO2 is absorbed into the ocean and sequestered in the deep cold depths. Removing it from our atmosphere and allowing it to sink into the bottom of the ocean for decades make our ocean a great tool for fighting climate change.

Big fish school swimming deep underwater in Pacific ocean waters

Ocean pollution that sits on the surface prevents this from happening. Currently, 269,000 tonnes of ocean pollution floats on the surface, removing our natural assistant for fighting climate change. It’s similar to cutting down forests, something the world has been petitioning against for decades. Trees help us fight climate change and as a nation, we understand the need for sustainable forestry – so now we need to help the ocean. As we’ve discovered above and in our previous blog, a lot can be done at home. 

Clean up ocean pollution for the wildlife 

Our final fact looks at how ocean pollution impacts wildlife.; beyond the obvious of it being deadly to them. Nobody wants their waste to harm wildlife, but it seems that in recent years, this message has become diluted and not as many people care as they did before. Out of sight, out of mind. 

Hands full of microplastics on the beach. Different plastic coloured… Plastic pollution concept.

So, let’s bring it back home. Quite literally, to your dinner table. That’s right. Fish are ingesting so many small pieces of microplastics that quite often they will end up on your dinner table. Even the finest restaurants can’t avoid this one. Research shows that 99% of fish have at least one microplastic in them. That’s a pretty big reason to reduce ocean pollution if you ask us! 

There they are, 5 facts about ocean pollution, some which may surprise you, some may not. However, we hope all of them highlighted that you have the power to reduce ocean pollution at home. Not just through beach cleaning and donating to worthy charities but by disposing of your waste safely. We also hope a few of these facts help persuaded you to take action too, there are plenty of reasons to do so.

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