GAINESVILLE, FL / ACCESSWIRE / January 20, 2021 / "Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to the health of our oceans today," saysDavid Hastings marine science expert and retired Eckerd professor. With the production of plastics increasing globally, levels of recycling at an all-time low, and poor waste management programs, it is approximated that about eight million metric tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans each year, according to a 2015 article in the journal Science.
"That's five grocery bags of plastic per foot of coastline around the world" warns David Hastings, chemical oceanographer, and marine science activist. "And in the next ten years, our forecasts predict that number will more than double."
Plastic pollution impacts sea turtles, fish, whales, coral reefs, and countless other species and ocean habitats. "Scientists estimate that every living seabird, and more than half of all living sea turtles, have ingested plastic at some point," Dr. Hastings tells us. "Not to mention what it's doing to our beaches, coastline, and dive sites across the world. I've been on the water for what feels like half of my life and sometimes it feels like there's nowhere remote enough to escape the plastic evidence of human carelessness."
The worst part? Even as plastics break down - which they do very slowly - they don't really ever go away. They just disperse into microplastics - the effects of which are still being studied. So what can we do to fight plastic pollution?
David Hastings Marine Science Professor Advises You to Reduce Use of Single-Use Plastics
"No matter where you live, the best thing you can do for the ocean is to reduce your use of single-use plastics," says David Hastings. Single-use plastic includes straws, water bottles, plastic bags, take out containers, utensils - anything that is thrown away after just one use.
You can achieve reduced use by refusing single-use plastics you don't need and by investing in longer-lasting alternatives. Use reusable grocery bags, bottles, cups, and dry cleaning garment bags. "One of the simplest forms of activism is to just refuse single-use plastics and let businesses know why you're doing it. Suggest they use paper or cardboard containers instead of styrofoam for take out, and bring your own fork. If enough people do it, eventually they will change. Businesses want you to keep spending money with them. Make sure they're earning it," urges Dr. David Hastings marine science expert and long-time environmental advocate.
"But while these individual actions are a good first step, what will really make a difference is comprehensive policy changes at the local, state, and national level," says Dr. Hastings. "We have seen good policy enacted at the national level with microbead legislation, which can be replicated for single-use plastics. The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 prohibits the manufacturing and distribution of cosmetics containing plastic microbeads. This recent law also applies to both cosmetics and over the counter drugs, and toothpaste.
Dr. David Hastings has always been interested in marine science. He pursued degrees in chemistry and chemical oceanography. His primary research is focused on paleoclimatology, understanding the history of past climate changes as revealed by ocean sediment. He also studies the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on ocean sediments and microplastics in the marine environment.
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SOURCE: David Hastings