If you’re reading this and you’re from New Zealand then I’m sure you’ve realised that we have some breathtakingly beautiful beaches. In fact, New Zealand is said to have some of the most scenic coastlines in the whole world! How blessed are we?!
We have a reputation of having clean, clear, organic beaches that are amazing to experience all year round. But.. If we want to keep them this way then something needs to be said about the amount of plastic that is washing up on our shores. Plastic from food containers and products we use every day can contribute to this plastic that can be found on beaches from floating in the sea.
It's impossible to know exactly how much plastic has made its way into the sea, but the US Academy of Scientists estimated that about 13,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating around every one square kilometer of the ocean surface. That is around eight million metric tons of plastic waste entering our oceans every year.
The plastic that makes its way into our oceans will eventually wash up onto beaches and may even be consumed by birds or fish. This is really sad because marine life mistakenly thinks that our rubbish is food and they can die from the harmful toxins. When the UV light from the sun mixes with the salt of the ocean, Plastic begins to break down and release BPA, Phthalates, PCBs and DDT into the sea. These chemicals are absorbed by small ocean animals and eventually work their way up the food supply. Scientists know a lot about what large plastics can do when it comes to damage to marine life, but now microplastics are also in the mix which is without a doubt threatening to animals that live in and around the ocean too.
Despite all the efforts in New Zealand and internationally, it’s hard to say whether the amount of plastic in our oceans is actually decreasing. So what can you do help keep our beaches clean and protect all the animals and marine life that the plastic effects?
#1 - Recycle your Plastic!
In New Zealand about 20% of all waste in landfills is plastic. So if you absolutely need to buy that plastic water bottle, make sure you dispose of it properly. Never put it in the rubbish bin because plastic like this can take around 500 years to completely degrade.
#2 - Stop buying Plastic Water Bottles
A large percentage of the plastic that is found on the shores of beaches and in our waters is from plastic bottles. There are lots of alternatives to plastic water bottles that are more earth friendly and probably better for your health too. Instead you can buy glass or stainless steel water bottles and even water in a carton such as Boxed Water where every container is BPA free and 100% recyclable.
#3 - Take ownership of your Waste Footprint
You should choose products without plastic packaging or even better, products that have no packaging at all! When you do your weekly food shop at Pak n save, say no to that yellow plastic bag. Instead, bring your own bag or make the use of the cardboard boxes supermarkets often supply to carry your groceries home. And if you can’t find a recycling bin when you're out and about enjoying the sunshine, then take your plastic object home with you and put it in your own recycling bin.
We are very lucky to be able to experience mostly very clean beaches here in New Zealand. From the golden beaches and tropical waters of the Coromandel to the dark, sparkling volcanic sands of the South Island’s West Coast. We have it very good here and we want to keep it that way!