If you follow me on Instagram (@rhiarhiajones), and follow my stories, you may have seen the posts I shared about marine litter. That's human waste, trash, rubbish, plastic, and it's all mixed up in our oceans.
OUR waste, OUR responsibility. Right?
Now, if like me you have a growing passion for our environment, you'll find yourself walking along the beach trapped somewhere between anger, shame and a yearning to do something. But what can you, an individual, really do?
The sheer scale of global marine litter seems irreversible and helpless but it's important to keep moving forward and here's how...
Visit the beach
Head down to your local beach, or make a day trip, and see it for yourself. I'm no beach expert, but I'd bet good money that there's human litter on every single beach in the world. Some beaches will be more polluted, others less so, this all comes down to their positioning in the ocean, nearby currents and the amount of human activity they see. Seeing, realising and understanding the true scale of marine litter is the first step towards a more sustainable future.
Count to five
Every time you visit the beach, take home 5 pieces of trash. Or if you have a bag, car, trailer take home as much as you can carry! Participating in a beach clean doesn't have to be an organised event, we can all take part, all the time. If 10 people visit a beach that's 50 pieces of trash. 100 people, 500 pieces. 10,000 people... you get the idea. Together, we can make a huge difference.
Talk to someone
On your own it's easy to feel useless. Go have a chat with your friends, family, colleagues, try to raise awareness of the issue you feel so passionate about. One of the biggest problems facing a more a sustainable life is ignorance. If people aren't aware, how can they be expected to act? You never know, your friend may have walked the same beach and had the same feelings.
Challenge the brands
Brands are designed to be recognised. Recognised in our adverts, in our shops, in our homes, but in our oceans? While walking along the beach it's easy to pick out big brands, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Fairy, Starbucks, Pot Noodle, Lucozade, Crocs... the list goes on and on. While the people behind these brands will most likely be delighted that you've recognised their product, will they be as delighted at where you found it? It's time to put the pressure on and demand change. We all use social media daily and it's easy to find big brands @handles. Find them, tag them, share them. Grassroot movements can and do work, when enough people challenge the brand, change will happen.
Single and ready to mingle
A funny little saying when it comes to dating. Not so funny when it comes to the environment. Single use products are a huge contributor to marine litter. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'll even shout it from the rooftops. STOP USING SINGLE USE PLASTICS! Your convenience is a real inconvenience to the planet. Switching to more sustainable alternatives can seem hard, can seem expensive, but don't be put off at the first hurdle. I've committed to replacing my everyday items for more conscious, more sustainable alternatives as each one runs out, this helps spread the cost and slowly breaks old habits one by one. But really, stop supporting single use. It's not cool.
Just incase you didn't know already, I'm no expert, I've not got a degree or any fancy knowledge on the conservation of oceans. I'm just like you. An ordinary individual committed to making change happen.