If you weren't aware, today, May 23rd, is World Turtle Day. It has been sponsored yearly ever since 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue, with an aim to bring attention to, and heighten knowledge of and respect for, tortoises and turtles, and encourage human action to support them in thriving and surviving.
So, since this is a pretty obvious one, to respect turtles and tortoises, we should respect their home right?
It's unclear as to what quantity of unrecycled plastic ends up drifting around in the sea, the final sink of earth. Jenna Jambeck, in 2015, a University of Georgia engineering professor, caught the world's attention with a scary estimate. Around 5.3 million and 14 million tons every year just from regions around the coast. The majority of it is not thrown off the ships, her colleagues said, but is thrown quite carelessly in rivers or on the land, mainly in Asia. It is finally washed or blown into the sea. Jambeck said, think about five plastic grocery bags packed with plastic trash, perched on every foot of coastline around the world - this would correspond to roughly 8.8 million tons - a middle-of-the-road estimate of what the ocean receives each year. The duration isn't obvious yet about how long it'll take for the plastic to totally biodegrade into it's constituent molecules. Estimates vary from 450 years to never.
The big problem is, ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year.
Almost 700 species, as well as endangered ones, are recognised as having been affected by it. A few are visibly harmed—suffocated by fishing nets that were abandoned or six-pack rings that were discarded. Invisible harm is prolific. Marine species of every size, from zooplankton to whales, presently consume micro-plastics, the foods tinier than a fifth of an inch wide.
The head of the United Nations Environment Programme spoke of an "ocean Armageddon." at a global summit in Nairobi last December.
There's a huge difference though. Ocean plastic is not as difficult as climate change. So far, there are not ocean trash deniers. To do something about the issue, there is no need to recreate the planet's complete energy system.
Ted Siegler, a Vermont resource economist of whom has committed over 25 years working with developing nations on garbage, said “This isn’t a problem where we don’t know what the solution is. We know how to pick up garbage. Anyone can do it. We know how to dispose of it. We know how to recycle.”
He says it's all to do with producing the necessary systems and institutions —ideally before the ocean becomes a complex soup of plastics.
But it's not all doom and gloom. There's a few things you can do to help right now:
1. No straws
The Evening Standard launched, The Last Straw initiative, which calls readers and business to no longer use plastic straws. As the fifth most used common rubbish item, they are used typically for around 20 minutes, though take roughly 500 years to disintegrate.
2. Use a reusable coffee cup
Just 1 in 400 coffee cups are recycled in the UK, and the majority cannot be anyway due to their internal plastic coating.
How many times each day do you buy coffee? Two? Three? Think of the waste.
3. Get a milkman
Yeah, really, just like your Nan did. Maybe there are still many milkmen and women making the morning drop-offs. Rather than getting your regular plastic pint, have a glass reusable bottle. You can find your local milkman service right here.
4. Replace packaging
Get rid of that cling film and those sandwich bags and replace them with long-lasting containers.