The Impact of Everyday Products on the Ocean

The Impact of Everyday Products on the Ocean
Around 8 to 10 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year" Source: UNESCO Ocean Literacy

Every year, a staggering 8 to 10 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans. This immense volume of waste not only disrupts marine ecosystems but also signals a profound crisis at the intersection of human activity and environmental health.

As everyday consumers, we play a crucial role in this ongoing issue—often without even realizing it. From the plastic wrappers on our snacks, to single-use plastic waste, to the synthetic fabrics of our clothes, the products we use has a profound impact on the world around us. 

Let's explore how the items we use daily impact ocean health and what we can do to turn the tide in favor of a healthier planet.


Plastic Is Actually Fairly New

Plastic, as ubiquitous as it seems today, wasn't always a staple in our everyday lives. The significant surge and mass production of plastic and integration into consumer culture accelerated in the 1950s and 1960s. This period marked a major expansion as plastics became central to manufacturing and everyday items due to their versatility and low cost, quickly transforming from a novel invention to a global dependency within a few decades.

Before this, materials like glass, metal, and wood were commonly used for many of the applications that plastic dominates today. This shift to plastic has brought undeniable convenience and versatility, but it has also introduced a significant and persistent threat to our environment, particularly our oceans.


Impact of Plastic On Ocean Health 

  • Wildlife Endangerment: Every year some researchers FIND 100,000 dead marine mammals due to plastic entanglement or ingestion. This number is a drop on the bucket compared to the actual number of animals dying every year. Entanglement, often caused by discarded fishing gear, poses a significant threat to marine life. Designed to trap, this type of plastic debris is a leading cause of death among ocean life.
  • Ecosystem Disruption: Plastic debris acts as a transporter for invasive species and a sponge for harmful chemicals, disrupting marine ecosystems and food webs. This leads to the degradation and sometimes destruction of habitats and ecosystems that are crucial for marine life.
  • Economic Cost: The presence of plastic in the oceans costs the global economy billions annually due to its impact on tourism, fishing, and marine transport. The costs associated with cleaning up beaches and coastlines continues to rise as plastic accumulation increases. 
  • Human Health Risks: One way microplastics have entered the human food chain and body is through seafood. While the affects of plastic on human bodies isn't fully understood, it is now known to disrupt the endocrine system, reproductive system, and even contribute to the risk of certain cancers. Plastics are known to carry toxic contaminants that can end up in the food we consume.


Reducing Your Plastic Waste Footprint

Understanding the impact is just the start. The solutions can be overwhelming, especially when we are looking at it from a global perspective. The bad news is that the actions we take everyday can affect our oceans. The good news is that the actions we take everyday can affects our oceans.

Here are steps we can take today that, through collective effort, will significantly reduce our plastic footprint:

  • Reduce Single-Use Plastics: Opt for non-plastic, reusable bags, bottles, and containers whenever possible.
  • Choose Non-Plastic Alternatives: Invest in kitchen, personal care, and household products made from sustainable materials.
  • Avoid Synthetic Ingredients in Hygiene & Beauty Products: Select products that are free from microbeads and synthetic polymers. While not all synthetic polymers are listed as microplastics, many are.
  • Support Sustainable Fashion: Wear clothes made from natural fibers and advocate for slow fashion. Buying less often and better quality items that'll last. Recycling, thrifting, swapping, fixing, and repurposing whenever possible.
  • Participate in Recycling and Community Clean-Ups: Engage in local and global efforts to clean beaches and waterways. Recycle and recycle properly. Different municipalities have different requirements, ensure you are recycling correctly. Incorrect recycling practices can ruin entire batches of recycled materials. This should be a last ditch effort. Most plastic sent to recycling never gets recycled and often ends up dumped in poor communities across the world.


We rely on the world and ecosystems around us. Their health and vibrancy will directly impact us, if not immediately, in the future. While actions needs to be taken on the large global scale, many may be surprised to find how much impact they can have as an individual in their every day lives.

Realizing we and the planet are in this together and taking collective action is how we will build a cleaner, brighter future.

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