Plastics never go away. Think about that. Every water bottle, every plastic bag, every clamshell container you use, in one way or another, is here forever. Sure, they may not always look the way they do now, but the reality is that they break down into smaller and smaller pieces and in many cases, end up in the ocean. How does that happen? All marine debris comes from people, it can enter the ocean and waterways from land through littering, poor waste management practices, storm water discharge, and extreme natural events such as tsunamis and hurricanes. Debris can also come from ocean-based sources, such as fishing vessels, stationary platforms used for offshore oil and gas, cargo ships, and other large vessels.
Plastics in our oceans and water ways play a huge role in disrupting our fragile marine ecosystems, and it's not just fish that are affected. It's estimated that plastic waste kills up to 100,000 sea mammals and over one million seabirds each year. In fact, for a baby sea turtle, ingesting just half of a gram of plastic can prove deadly.
Fortunately, there are many organizations that focus directly on reducing and reusing ocean plastics in innovative and imaginative ways. In the video on this page, you'll be introduced to one of those groups, The Million Waves Project, which was founded based on a simple question: "What if doing something was better than doing nothing?" It's ideas like that, and motivated eco-minded individuals that have the potential to change the world for the better. So watch the video, hopefully it inspires you to think outside of the box, and possibly spark the idea in you that changes the world in ways not yet imagined.
For more information and resources related to the harm that plastic plays on our marine ecosystems and information about our National Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments, head to Sanctuaries.NOAA.gov and marinesanctuary.org!