It's so important that we're all aware of just how detrimental plastic pollution is to our oceans! The sea and all its wildlife play a crucial part in our ecosystem and plastic pollution is a serious threat that effects all of us. We are now using more plastic than ever and too much of it is ending up in the environment and causing harm to animals and us as humans. 

As a population of over 7 billion, we produce over 381 million tonnes of plastic globally per year, with at least 8 million pieces entering the oceans every single day - (which is set to double by 2034)! Plastic can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, (and even then, it never really goes away) which means every piece of plastic that has ever been produced still exists today!  

According to a study from National Geographic, 73% of all beach litter is plastic. Plastic pollution can now be found on every beach in the world and scientists have now also recently found microplastics embedded in the arctic ice.


It is estimated that by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans. This means that the amount of plastic will physically outweigh fish, and the oceans will contain at least 937 million tons of plastic compared to 895 million tons of fish by 2050.

The most polluting agents are single-use plastics, such as supermarket food wrappers, shopping bags, water bottles and even cigarette butts. In addition to this, a surprising amount of plastic pollution is also caused by the fishing industry. A study by Green Peace found that lost and discarded fishing gear makes up the majority of large plastic pollutors in the oceans. 

The most concerning of these are discarded "ghost nets" - these are huge trawler nets thrown out to sea by fishing boats which not only pollute the ocean with plastic and leave chemical residues, they kill huge amounts of wildlife as they float endlessly through the oceans, entangling animals and destroying coral reefs. Most of these nets have been reported to come from illegal and unregulated fishing vessels out at sea where there are no grounds to be prosecuted. 


Ocean plastic is responsible for killing an estimated 1 million marine birds and 100,000 marine animals each year due to the ingestion of plastic as a lot of these animals mistake plastic for food, or simply ingest them by accident, according to a report by United Nations. More than 90% of all birds and fish are believed to have plastic particles in their stomach. This is because over time, plastic breaks up into smaller pieces as it drifts around the sea, eventually becoming what are known as "mircoplastics". 

What makes these microplastics so terrifying is that once they become so small they are impossible to get rid of and are rapidly entering the food chain as they're consumed by fish and sea creatures, ultimately leading to us as humans. Plastics are man-made from agents such as coal, gas and oil which are known carcinogens to humans and animals. Emerging evidence suggests that the amount of plastics these animals are consuming means they are at risk of the toxic effects of the chemicals that coat plastics and as we consume these animals these carcinogens are inevitably passed on to us.  

Trapped seal plastic pollution ocean  Plastic pollution bird

By 2050, we will shockingly be using three times as much plastic as we were 2015. With the rate we are consuming plastics and how long it takes to decompose it is possible we will all quite literally be drowning in plastic unless major actions are taken.

My aim is to try and end each of these blog posts on a positive note but it's important to raise awareness and get the message across that we're in big trouble if we carry on the way we're going! We may not be able to reverse the damage we've done so far, but if we act fast and do our bit to help we can prevent huge disasters in the future! 

While it is also the responsibility of large corporations to adapt and change their mindset as the biggest polluters, it's also up to us to find better and more sustainable alternatives as well.

Beach pollution Emily May  Coral dead bleach

Ways we as individuals can help:

  • Most importantly - reduce your plastic consumption. Where you can, limit single-use plastics, adopt re-usable coffee cups, water bottles and drinks straws etc. 
  • Eliminate plastic carrier bags from your life! If you're in a situation where you have to use a plastic bag, then re-use it for next time. Plastic is designed to last, so make it last. 
  • Choose companies and brands who are sustainable or brands who make conscious efforts to reduce their plastic consumption and recycle.
  • Recycle - although there are discrepancies with what actually happens to a lot of our recycling, it's still important to do so and minimise what goes into land fill. 
  • Don't litter. Ever! Littering is a massive contributor to ocean pollution as wind and rain water washes rubbish into drains and rivers. And where do they end up? The sea. 
  • Try to reduce fish consumption or buying cheap and unethically sourced fish. This is a tricky one because its proven difficult to know exactly where our fish comes from, but is do-able. 
  • Spread the message and help educate people on the things they can do to help! 
  • Donate to charities and organisations that are making a difference. See organastions below...

Ways in which large organisations are trying to help:

  • The Prevented Plastic Ocean programme prevented 500 million plastic bottles from reaching the ocean. That's over 55,000 bottles every hour, 1,000 bottles per minute. In addition to this, they've provided 200,000 paid workdays for coastline plastic collectors! 
  • The Blue Marine Foundation help to secure marine protected areas and ensure at least 30% of the ocean by 2030 as well as developing sustainable fishing models and restoring marine habitats.
  • World Wildlife Fund are helping to save marine life through campaigns to reduce problematic plastics from flowing into nature and help create the largest net-free haven for dugongs, dolphins and turtles on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Coral Reef Alliance is an environmental NGO that works collaboratively with communities to reduce environmental threats to reefs and wildlife. 
  • Ocean Conservancy help solve some of the greatest threats facing our ocean today, from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico, they protect vital ecosystems and enforce accountability of leaders and legislators. 


Be sure to check out my up-coming blog posts to learn more about the points touched on above and how you can make a difference!
I hope this information was helpful and inspiring! :)  

Emily x x


Save the oceans