What do you want to swim with, plastic or fish?

By 2050, scientists predict there’ll be more plastic in the ocean than fish. It’s a barely conceivable thought, but one that’s fast becoming a reality with 8 million metric tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year.

We live in a disposable society where many products are single use or have a product lifespan of less than one to three years. A plastic bag has an average lifespan of just 15 minutes, yet we use 1 million of them, every minute. More plastic has been produced in the last ten years than during the whole of the last century.

Of the plastics produced, research shows only about 9% is recycled and 12% is incinerated. The remaining 79% accumulates in landfills or the natural environment (such as in our oceans). The problem with such high disposal rates? Plastics resist biodegradation. As a result, they can exist for centuries – or even indefinitely: A plastic water bottle can last 450 years; a disposable nappy, 500 years; Styrofoam, a whopping 5000 years!

What does this mean?

If we continue on this trajectory and don’t clean up our act, we’ll literally be swimming in rubbish. Our wildlife will continue to suffer from entanglement and ingestion, robbing our oceans of their biodiversity. And human health will be at greater risk as well, as we consume plastic that gets caught in the food chain.

We need solutions

Over the past five years, Earthwatch has sent citizen science teams on marine debris projects in Australia, Bali, South Africa and Peru to help researchers from CSIRO and Southern Cross University understand debris loads and sources in these regions. We’ve also been working with businesses, including packaging companies, to help transform their way of thinking and make changes at the production level.

We also have an exciting opportunity to make a real difference in Australia’s top leisure destination in Indonesia.

By partnering with the Plastic Collective, local NGO Sea Communities and Southern Cross University, we aim to help smaller villages within Indonesia to create a circular economy from their waste. These villages do not have formal waste collection or waste management infrastructure. Together, we are introducing a machine – the “Shruder” – that will enable these communities to turn plastic waste into reusable products such as woven floor mats, baskets, jewellery, water tanks and even housing materials.

You can help

We need to act now, and act together, to stop plastics getting into our oceans. By donating to Earthwatch, your generosity and commitment will help us to:

  • Install Shruder machines into small coastal villages in Bali
  • Train communities in the skills they need to run their own microbusiness
  • Build community awareness of the impacts of plastic pollution, and the need to reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Research the environmental benefits of small-scale recycling in remote island communities
  • Prevent debris from entering the environment
  • Change social behaviour 

With your support, our research findings will build the evidence needed to scale this work up across Asia, helping repurpose waste and create a plastic pollution solution for our oceans.

Donate today or travel with us to Bali in April 2021 for our Turning the Tide expedition and be part of this cutting-edge project.

Learn more about Plastics Offsetting and our new initiative with Green Collar.

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