Let’s be honest – it’s 2020 – and if you do not know the importance of changing behaviour towards ocean health and why it’s necessary yet, you may have been in hiding for the last few decades. The oceans are in dire distress: overfishing, climate change, pollution and the lack of education have all pushed our oceans to the brink of collapse.
But few people realise the importance rivers play in ocean health. A 2017 study found that around 90% of all the plastic in the world’s oceans flows there through just 10 rivers. Eight of those rivers were in Asia, and two in Africa. They all run through highly populated areas, which also lack effective waste collection, meaning trash often ends up in the river.
Raja Ampat is one of two locations in Indonesia that actually have a plan towards creating an effective waste management system. The lack of effective waste management facilities is a consequence of Indonesia’s rapid modernisation and adoption of the consumer lifestyle: Barely two generations ago all waste generated in Indonesian society was biodegradable.
According to a recent cleanup effort from Thames21 – a group who organises clean-ups along the foreshore of the River Thames – wet wipes have become a recent problem since it is often flushed down toilets and are discharged into the river from the sewers after heavy rainfall. These wipes break down into smaller pieces of microplastics, which ultimately end up in our oceans. Plastic takes centuries to break down and instead of simply disappearing – it finds its way into the stomachs of marine life and seabirds. It is even finding its way into humans – a recent study found that globally, we are swallowing an average of 5 grams of plastic every week (although it can’t be proven that it all come from the oceans).
Here are a few things you can do to play your part in ensuring our rivers are free from plastic:
Stay away from cosmetic products such as face wash that contains microbeads.
Do not flush the below down the toilet:
- Wet wipes
- Cigarette butts
- Dental Floss
Dispose of your cigarette butts appropriately and do not throw it on the streets where it can wash down the drains and end up in our rivers.
Make sure your car does not leak oil, which can eventually wash down storm drains and end up in the watershed.
Don’t flush any unused medicine down the toilet or wash medicinal liquids down the drain of your basin.
Do you have any other simple tips for ensuring we take care of our rivers, and ultimately our oceans? Let us know on social media!