Humans don’t always realize how much our actions affect the world around us. It may not always seem like it, but our actions are wavelets upon our environment, forever rippling outwards and affecting more people and animals than we may realize. We only need to look to the example of how our plastic habit impacts the world around us to see this effect.

When we accept a plastic bag, when we discard a plastic straw or utensils or pick up a plastic water bottle on our way to work, we are putting materials in circulation that will take thousands of years to break down. Considering the fact that only 12 percent of the materials that are deemed recyclable are actually recycled, even when we dispose of our plastics “properly” many times they still end up in the ocean. It’s no wonder an average of 8.8 million tons of plastic get dumped in the ocean every single year.

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While there is still much to be desired about our disposal process, there are a few notable strides being made to better the system, even at the community level. Just recently, Lake Worth City Commission, a South Florida County organization, passed an ordinance that will regulate the use of outdoor balloons and sky lanterns on city-owned property. The ordinance is in collaboration with the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a nonprofit sea turtle research, rehabilitation, and education center, and came after the organization saw that balloons and lanterns that are released after use (we’ve all done it) return as litter and poses a threat to the county’s abundant sea turtle population.

Sea turtles, just like many other animals, mistake litter like balloons for food. Once ingested, the remains can potentially damage sea turtles’ digestive systems, lead to starvation, and even death. Considering many species of sea turtle are in danger of extinction and a recent study found about 50 percent of sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs, it’s very clear we need to take action … and fast.

While many of the commissioners feel that the ordinance is important and worthwhile, there are still some  details left to iron out, specifically, what the penalty will be for violators, how to convince voters that this is an issue worth prioritizing, and how the ordinance will be enforced. We hope that this ordinance is able to pass without hindrance. It can have an incredible impact on the life of marine animals, and bring an issue to light that many people may have not been educated on before. Every action taken to #CrushPlastic is a worthwhile one!

How You Can Help 

If we all make an effort to identify where we use plastic and actively look for alternatives, we can drastically cut down on the amount of plastic pollution that finds its way into the oceans.

As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, One Green Planet believes that reducing everyday plastics from our lives is not about giving up anything or sacrificing convenience, but rather learning to reap the maximum benefit from the items you use every day while having the minimum impact.

Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.

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Image source: Tony Northrup/Shutterstock

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