June 8th is World Ocean Day, a celebration of the mysterious blue waters that cover 70% of the planet and provide a home for 50-80% of all life on earth. Healthy oceans and coasts provide services that are critical to sustaining life on land including climate regulation, food, medicines, and even compounds that make peanut butter easy to spread!
Currently, the largest threat to the ocean is pollution, primarily from plastics. Plastics, synthetic organic polymers normally created from petroleum, are so long lasting that all the plastic that has ever been created still exists today. Once they enter our waters, plastics entangle marine life or erode into smaller particles that are then ingested. Every piece of litter we pick up on land, including here in The Woodlands, helps the ocean and the life within.
Where does pollution come from?
The majority of ocean pollution originates on land as trash that blows out of landfills, litter that was left behind in outdoor spaces, waste from processing facilities and illegal dumping. Litter can travel long distances through storm drains, lakes and rivers to reach the ocean. Located in the Gulf Coast Region, litter in The Woodlands eventually makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico if we don’t take the opportunity to remove it before it enters our waterways. Beach goers and recreational boaters visiting our lakes and shores can greatly reduce ocean pollution by properly disposing of any trash, especially fishing nets, plastics bottles and bags.
What does it cost?
Litter costs Texas taxpayers $40 million annually in clean up efforts, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. If every Texan picked up two pieces of trash each month, our highways would be completely litter-free in just one year. That money could be reallocated towards other programs working to clean our oceans.
The top litter items found in the environment are cigarette butts and food/retail industry waste such as take out containers, straws and cutlery.
Let’s answer the call to action for our oceans!
Here’s how we can make a difference:
- Coordinate your own cleanup
- Bring a bucket to the beach, one for treasures and one for trash; recycle what you can
2. Support an organization
- There are many groups forming their own cleanups. Become involved or consider making a donation.
3. Not able to make it to the shoreline? There’s plenty you can do at home
- Reduce plastics by, purchasing items with less packaging when shopping
- Reuse as much as you can – bring your own bags & bottles
- Recycle right – stay up to date on your local recycling guidelines
- Refuse single use plastics such as straws, bags and cutlery.
- Adopt-a-Path for litter cleanup in The Woodlands!