It is most beautiful at the sea. Actually. Because the oceans actually acidify and litter. According to McKinsey, 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in the oceans every year. One truck load per minute. In the North Sea alone there are more than 600,000 cubic meters of garbage – that’s about 1.5 times the Cologne Cathedral. Here are 9 simple tips on how to protect the ocean from home.
Tip 1. Reduce your carbon footprint.
The high CO2 concentration in the atmosphere makes the sea more acidic and warmer. For the animals it is a burden, for some even an existential one. They are drawn to colder regions where there is less food. Acid water is particularly harmful to shellfish. The easiest and fastest way to reduce CO2 is to switch to green electricity and green gas. Every household saves several tons of CO2 a year and can reduce its CO2 footprint by a fifth.
Also ride your bike or public transport, hardly ever fly and if you do, compensate for the CO2 for a flight via Atmosfair. Buy regionally, eat less meat and dairy products, and if you want to buy fish, only with a guide. Organizations like Greenpeace publish good brochures for responsible and sustainable purchasing.
Tip 2. Avoid plastic waste.
Plastic bags, packed vegetables, disposable dishes, plastic bottles – everyone can do without. Switching to glass bottles, thermos cups or cloth bags that you have brought with you is really not difficult. There are also over 70 packaging-free supermarkets in Germany. Sophisticated deposit systems for a coffee-to-go experience without paper cup soiling are also gradually gaining acceptance.
Tip 3. Don’t just take your trash with you.
How do people in swimming trunks affect fish? Like disgusting aliens. We are guests in this world, let’s behave like that! That means: Don’t throw anything into the water, don’t leave anything on the beach or on the banks of the river, and never leave anything lying anywhere again. If you are cool, you also take other people’s garbage with you and get used to the belongs-to-me-not-interested-me-not attitude.
Tip 4. Take part in Beach Clean Ups.
There are more and more events where groups collect rubbish on river banks or beaches. As a happening. Clean ups are fun and also make great statements. Beach or river goers watch others clean up trash. Maybe even her own. That sticks. At Polarstern, we also regularly organize clean ups in Munich. With many great partners like Sea Shepherd, Patagonia, Viva con Agua, Surfrider Foundation and many more. Check our website for the event! In 2019 we collected over 750 kilograms of garbage.
This year our annual Isar Clean Up is unfortunately canceled due to the Corona crisis. But that’s why you can still do something: grab people from at most two households and go to the (river) beaches independently. Collect rubbish together and, in addition to a sociable meeting at a distance, also do something good.
Tip 5. Separate your trash.
According to the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Association for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (BUND), only 16% of plastic waste in Germany is recycled. The rest is burned or shipped. Germany is even the third largest exporter of plastic waste. Main reason: The production of new plastic is often cheaper than sorting and processing the used material. That is bitter. In your private life you shouldn’t let this deter you. Only separated waste can be meaningfully recycled. And you shouldn’t be responsible for the low recycling yield.
Tip 6. Support organizations for marine protection.
Support marine conservation organizations. For example our partner Sea Shepherd. You have surely seen the T-shirts with skulls and harpoons. For 40 years the organization has been fighting against poaching and environmental crimes on the seas. To date, the organization has saved the lives of thousands of whales, for example. Sea Shepherd has been a great role model for me since I started.
Please visit the Sea Shepherd website! If you can, just donate a few euros or dollars to them. Even small amounts help our seas.
Tip 7. Tell about the sea.
Friends’ opinions are important. She may already have given up smoking in one person, and in another one from racing in the car. Talk to your friends about the sea. Post petitions and interesting articles. Share facts you have read about the seas. About dwindling fish stocks, water pollution, species extinction. Something is sure to get stuck and the next one will never put out his cigarette in the sand again. However, we have had bad experiences with raised index fingers. Sometimes, out of defiance, the cigarette flies into the sand.
Tip 8. Buy products made from marine litter.
After all, some companies are pulling the waste out of the water and making something new out of it. From marine litter, there are already trainers, swimwear, packaging and much more. Just google if there is something that appeals to you.
Tip 9. Keep your interest.
The sea is the best! Everyone wants to go at least once a year. Under the whitecaps of the waves there is a world bigger than ours on land. There is so much to explore. Read books, watch movies – keeping interest is important. It ensures that you are engaged not just once, but: forever.
Personally, I have been campaigning intensively against marine pollution for years. I think this topic is just too important to ignore. If you can, please share this article. Maybe we can reach even more people who will help protect our seas.