Many of us are keen to ‘do our bit’ when it comes to protecting the planet but end up feeling overwhelmed and hopeless in the face of the never-ending deluge of grim environmental facts and statistics.
The news takes a particularly depressing turn when it comes to plastic pollution. Humankind’s intense yet surprisingly recent obsession with this cheap and durable material is now considered one of the greatest threats to the health of our planet.
Since mass manufacturing of plastic began in the 1950s, we’ve produced a whopping 8.3 billion tonnes of the stuff — but just nine per cent of that has been recycled.
The remaining 91 per cent is in landfill, where it will sit for decades or even centuries because plastic takes so long to decompose. Some of it is burned, which releases dangerous chemicals into the air.
Or, it ends up in our oceans at an estimated rate of 8 million tonnes per year.
Plastic pollution wreaks havoc in our oceans; it’s responsible for the deaths of one million seabirds every single year.
‘More plastic than fish’ by 2050
We’re at a point where so plastic pollution is so prolific that it contaminates our air, land, sea and can enter the human body through the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.
If we don’t take action, scientists predict that there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
But what does ‘take action’ actually mean for everyday Aussies? Those of us who want to help but can’t drop everything to become full-time eco-warriors living zero-waste lives?
The good news is, you don’t have to do anything that extreme to make a difference. The simple act of picking up a few bits of rubbish on your next visit to the beach, for example, has a far greater impact than you might think.
It’s the refreshingly straightforward message at the heart of homegrown charity Take 3 for the Sea, as CEO Sarah Beard tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“Take 3 exists to conserve the ocean and protect wildlife from the impacts of plastic pollution and waste.
“Our call to action is simple: take three pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or anywhere and you have made a difference.”
To get the word out, Take 3 has taught over half a million Aussie kids about healthy and sustainable habits via school education programs. They also run beach clean-ups and events across the country and offer clean-up kits for those keen to ‘take 3’ on their own.
But surely it can’t be that easy? On the contrary, explains Sarah.
“It comes back to knowing the importance of individual actions.
“When enough people understand they have the power to make positive impacts, the world will change for the better — and it already has!”
So far, Take 3 has cleaned 1.7 million m2 of beach around Australia and removed 9,700 tonnes of rubbish from those sites, Sarah reveals.
And it’s not just Aussies that are making a dent in ocean plastic with over 129 countries also getting involved in the campaign.
“Through our simple message, over 30 million pieces of rubbish have been removed from oceans and the environment around the world,” Sarah says.
A quick search of the #take3forthesea tag on Instagram offers heartwarming and inspiring examples of humankind’s power to repair the damage we’ve caused to the only place we have to call home.
Despite all of the incredible achievements being made around the world to fight plastic pollution, there’s always more that can be done.
How to help save our oceans
#Take3fortheSea. Take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere, and you have made a difference.
Donate to Take 3 for the Sea. Every dollar donated goes straight back into Take 3’s programs that help to protect and conserve oceans and marine life.
Purchase reusable alternatives to single-use plastics like a coffee cup, tote bag and drink bottle — check out Take 3’s online shop.
Run a clean-up in your community with a Take 3 Clean-Up Kit.
However you choose to ‘do your bit,’ it’s worth bearing some encouraging words from Sarah in mind particularly when it might seem like your efforts are, to pardon a pun, just a drop in the ocean.
“The actions you take will make a difference. You have the power to make positive change every single day.”