The International Coastal Cleanup event held in Fall 2020, found over 62,000 PPE items around the world. Touted as the world’s largest volunteer effort, the cleanup has participants from 76 countries. Volunteers collected over 1.5 million pounds of trash, including thousands of pounds of masks and gloves.
2020 was the first year PPE was added as a data category for review. George Leonard, chief scientist with Ocean Conservancy, shared, “We absolutely believe that PPE waste is a significant threat to oceans and marine life.” The pandemic has caused an increase in plastic in multiple areas of life.
“There’s enhanced demand and use of single-use plastics like bags and containers by consumers and businesses for groceries and food takeout,” he said, “Then there’s the global use of disposable masks and gloves. No one would have thought a few months ago that the entire world would be using them.”
“A much as 80% of plastic waste in oceans comes from land,” said Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation. And many are unaware of the impact of these items, too. “Also, people may not realize that these blue masks and gloves have plastic in them,” said Nelsen. “So what we’re using just for a couple of minutes can last on Earth for thousands of years. It won’t biodegrade. When it does decompose into microplastics, it will be digested by animals on land and my marine wildlife.”
There are products you may be using or habits you may have that contribute to plastic pollution. Learn more about how the use of Teabags, Cotton Swabs, Laundry, Contact Lenses, Glitter, and Sheet Masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions going forward. There are also numerous simple actions and switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including, making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners, using mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, and avoiding microbeads!
Sign this petition to demand that Biden and Congress work together to save our oceans, our marine animals, and our Earth by banning single-use plastics throughout the entire United States!
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