For every human on the planet, there's a ton of plastic waste. Literally.
Images: Caroline Power Photography. Learn how Roatan Marine Park works to protect the region here.
In October 2017, photographer Caroline Power captured disturbing images off the coast of Roatan that highlight our planet’s immense trash and plastic addiction problems. The following summer, footage of plastic waves in the Dominican Republic sparked shock and outrage around the world. Perhaps the most disturbing part of these images is not the garbage in them, but the realities they document. Garbage emergencies are neither new nor isolated issues; floating patches and swirling gyres of plastic debris, big and small, are present in every part of the ocean around the world. Parley has responded to these issues across the globe.
And then there is everything we don’t see in these scenes. Power points out that items like plastic bottles, bags, and other heavier pieces of plastic pollution sink to the bottom. As alarming as these images are, it is even more distressing to know that the trash visible in them is not the bulk of the issue. The majority of pollution lurks below the surface, out of human sight, but directly endangering marine life (and ultimately us).
It is often repeated that at the rate humans are currently polluting our oceans, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the water than fish, by weight. But even that estimate misses the true urgency of the issue. Plastic is already found everywhere: on the most remote shorelines, in melting sea ice, at the bottom of the deepest ocean trenches, at all levels of the marine food web, in the water we drink, the food we eat and even the air we breathe. We live in a world where plastic falls from the sky.
Though some sources and pathways of pollution are larger than others, there is not one single region, continent, or country that is solely responsible for the overwhelming level of pollution pouring into our lifeblood daily. Everyone is part of the problem, which means everyone must be part of the solution. Our future depends on what we do now to address this very real and visible threat. So does the reality we inhabit together today.
There are billions of reasons to act. We all can make a difference. Below are 31 simple, practical ways you can personally participate by bringing the Parley AIR Strategy into your daily life:
Carry a reusable bag to avoid single-use plastic bags.
Say no to plastic straws or carry your own reusable straw if you need one. P.S. here's why it's awesome.
Carry reusable utensils with you instead of opting for plastic ones.
Wash your clothes less frequently (you're welcome) and use a cold wash setting to reduce the release of microfibers.
Avoid beauty products with microbeads, these are made of plastic and are often too small to be filtered.
Buy a reusable water bottle and ditch the plastic ones.
Bring your own cup to coffee shops. Even paper cups are often lined with plastic. At the very least, skip the lid. Or you could save money by making your own.
Choose products in glass containers over similar products in plastic packages, like milk and juice.
Stop chewing gum. Most chewing gum is made from plastic and packaged in even more of it. And then there's misophonia.
Buy from bulk bins as much as possible (bring your reusable containers).
Line your trash cans with paper bags instead of plastic, especially if you had to use a paper bag at the grocery store.
Stick to wooden matches or fancy refillable lighters instead of disposable plastic ones that end up on beaches.
Avoid the plastic packaging that comes with prepared frozen meals and take-out grub. Challenge yourself to cook with fresh ingredients, then freeze your leftovers.
Buy bread and other baked goods at bakeries that use paper packaging instead of plastic bags.
Resist individually packed snacks and go with zero or low waste options, like nuts from bulk bins and fruit.
Use reusable containers like glass and stainless steel or mason jars to store and carry food. Bring them to dinner if you anticipate leftovers.
Reuse/repurpose plastic items that you already have in order to keep them from entering the environment.
Only buy wine with natural corks instead of plastic ones. It's way classier.
If you're throwing a party, use real cups instead of disposable plastic ones. That's way classier, too.
Buy reusable metal razors, not disposable.
Ditch the liquid body wash in plastic bottles and buy bars of soap with minimal or no packaging. Same goes for shampoo.
Pack a lunch. It's easier on the budget.
Grow your own herbs and vegetables in a garden or with hanging pots to cut down on packaging and enjoy the immensely gratifying and grounding feeling of self-sufficiency.
Make your own toothpaste. See above.
Use natural/bamboo toothbrushes that are recyclable.
Wrap and ship gifts in cloth or recycled paper and twine. Avoid superfluous plastic bubble wrap and bows.
No more balloons. Balloons blow.
Shine without the glitter. It's usually plastic, and it gets everywhere. Seriously, everywhere.
Burning sage or sandalwood incense beats artificial candles and air fresheners in plastic packaging.
Make sure you are educated on how to correctly recycle the plastic that you do have to use.
Explain your choices to people who ask. And to those who don't—they probably need to hear it most.
Share how you avoid useless plastics on social using #ParleyAIR
Learn more about the Parley Global Cleanup Network