What does a tropical island in the Pacific and in Antarctica have in common? Unfortunately, it is marine waste. Even the most remote places on Earth are polluted by man-made trash and spills. And much of the debris found comes from land-based sources. In a marine protected area off the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, 50 tons of debris were collected in just one month. That's the equivalent of 50 elephants' worth of trash. This small sample speaks volumes about the scale of this problem. Marine debris is everywhere. It sits on the ocean floor, hangs in the water column, floats on the surface and lies on the beach. And no matter where it is, it causes problems.
Animals are entangled, trapped and killed. They ingest fragments while feeding, which can lead to disease and death. Corals are smothered, causing significant disruption to entire habitats and ecosystems. Boats are exposed to navigational hazards, such as damage to their propellers. Cigarette butts, plastic bottles, and plastic bags left on beaches. Debris also causes injuries to swimmers, divers, and beachgoers and can cause areas to be closed due to pollution.
The tourism industry suffers from these things. There are no easy solutions to the world's marine pollution problem, but there are things you can do to help. Since we caused it, we have a responsibility to clean it up. We can recycle more, volunteer to clean up coastlines, and support programs that address the problem in creative ways. Take the time to research what events and actions are happening near you. Ultimately, the most effective way to reduce our waste is to not create it in the first place.
Our islands and icebergs should have one thing in common: plastic-free water.