At the beginning of this decade, millions of people around the world made new year's resolutions, with the hope of bettering themselves.
Whether you pledged to exercise more, to save money, or to take up a hobby, the reality is that many pledges are likely to have been broken.
However, attitudes toward single-use plastics must change this year. According to Heidi Savelli, who works for UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on issues related to marine litter, "As we enter 2020, it is crunch-time for the planet. We need to act now if we are to have any chance of protecting our biodiversity. Our attitude towards single-use and disposable plastics is a good place to start. Every year, we are producing and consuming more and more plastic, but we are not stepping up efforts to manage it."
So, it's never too late to make a new resolution for the environment. If you're looking for inspiration for actions that will not only benefit you but will help to turn the tide on plastic pollution, here are some extra incentives.
Reducing the risk of heart disease, losing weight, and improving mental health are often cited as primary reasons for taking up exercise. Since approximately 70 per cent of the world's oxygen comes from the ocean, why not also give back to the ocean while exercising and take part in 'plogging' (picking up litter while jogging) or beach clean-ups? Seeing the litter you have collected after a 'plog' is a great way to see the environmental results of your workout, and a great incentive to keep exercising.
Smoking significantly increases risks for heart disease, lung cancer, stomach cancer, brittle bones, strokes and more.
But here's another reason to quit: did you know that by smoking, you are contributing to the plastic that enters the ocean? Every day, 18 billion cigarettes are bought around the world, each containing plastic filters and toxic chemicals. These eventually end up polluting and damaging the environment through landfill sites and threaten the life of all marine species. Consistently, for over 25 years, cigarettes butts have been the top item collected during the International Coastal Cleanup.
Improve your diet
You can improve the health of your body as well as the health of the ocean by being mindful of the food you eat and buy. When shopping, reduce your plastic waste by only buying the food that you need, choosing food with no plastic packaging, carrying a reusable bag while shopping and buying locally produced food products. By reducing the amount of plastic pollution you produce, you will also reduce the amount of microplastics that enter the ocean and end up in the food you eat.
In addition, abandoned fishing equipment--also called ghost gear--haunts the world's oceans, endangering marine life and livelihoods for more than 600 species. If you're buying seafood, check the label to ensure that it has been sustainably sourced.
Invest in sustainable, ocean-friendly daily products such as reusable coffee mugs, water bottles and food wraps and consider options like well as menstrual cups, bamboo toothbrushes and shampoo bars. These choices will help save you money in the long run, as you won't have to keep buying disposable products that end up in the trash. By going zero-waste you will save the ocean from unnecessarily being polluted with plastic and microplastics.
If you are eager to travel more in 2020, be mindful of the single-use plastics that you use while abroad and make the effort to 'leave no trace'. Here are some of the simple ways that you can reduce your contribution to plastic pollution: refuse miniature personal care bottles in hotel rooms, take your own reusable drinking bottle and use reef-safe sunscreen which doesn't contain microplastics.
Make a new, new year's resolution
If you want to make 2020 the year that you commit to #CleanSeas, here are a few more easy steps:
Advocate for #CleanSeas by spreading the message to your friends, family and online followers about the need to move away from single-use plastics.
Be mindful of the hidden-in-plain-sight everyday plastics, and make efforts to avoid using them. Switch to plastic-free packaging where possible, and pledge to stop using products that contain both visible and hidden unnecessary plastics.
Demand change from the brands that use excessive plastic.
About Clean Seas
The United Nations Environment Programme launched the Clean Seas Campaign in 2017 with the goal of galvanizing a global movement to turn the tide on plastic by reducing the use of unnecessary single-use plastics and phasing out intentionally added microplastics. Since then, 60 countries have pledged to do their part improve plastics management through, among other measures, reducing the prevalence of single-use plastics. Learn more about the campaign and how you can help, consider joining the global partnership on marine litter and follow our social media campaign @UNEP on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.