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Clean Seas Campaign

By 2050, the UN Environment says there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

Each year, approximately eight million tons of plastic go into our oceans. Eilanwy Slyboom, of the Alachua County Public Works Department, says there are reasons for this. "Plastic is not a material the earth can digest. It may break down into tiny little pieces, but it never actually goes away. All of the plastic that's ever been produced, is still with us today."

Plastic to go containers for food, plastic grocery bags, and one of the worst offenders, plastic water bottles, add up. Slyboom says, "We consume, and dispose of over 1,500 water bottles every second. And only 1 in 6 get recycled."

So the UN Environment is launching the Clean Seas campaign, to encourage people to limit single use plastics. Slyboom explains movements like this benefit everyone. "There are six pieces of plastic per one phytoplankton. The ocean is actually the number provider of our oxygen because of the phytoplankton. So right now we're kind of smothering our oceans with plastic."

While there are obvious offenders, there are other pieces of plastic often overlooked. Slyboom says micro beads, found in many face wash products, are actually tiny pieces of plastic. When small pieces of plastic end up in our water, it becomes a chain reaction. "Little fish eat plastic, larger fish eat smaller fish, and it's this whole chain. And then eventually we're getting our fish from the ocean, so we're eating the plastic."

Slyboom says people it may seem overwhelming, but little changes from people can make a difference. "Every action that we take that is an improvement really does make a difference. So whether you are avoiding the plastic bottles, the straws, the styrafoam, it all adds up, because we're all a part of something larger than ourselves."

For more information on the UN Environment's Clean Seas campaign, visit CleanSeas.org.

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