6 Ways You Can Help Reduce Ocean Trash

6 Ways You Can Help Reduce Ocean Trash

There are all kinds of plastic trash in the ocean. Most of it comes directly from land-based activities; the rest from the shipping industry. Unfortunately, plastics don’t chemically break down like most other substances. Plastic lives almost forever, at least from a human perspective.

A uniquely awful characteristic about plastic ocean trash is that many sea creatures eat it because it resembles food to them. This is actually the crux of the ocean pollution problem. When vital sea creatures begin to die off, the potential for massive disruptions of the food chain is enormous.

Even though ocean trash is a huge global problem, there are many ways that every single person on the planet can help. Don’t fall into the “I’m just one person” mental trap. It’s a defeatist way of thinking. Instead, get to work by doing something that marks a positive step toward stemming the amount of bad stuff that ends up in our oceans. You can do a lot because there are already organizations in place that desperately need your time, money, talent, and ideas.

Once you join a concerted effort, you’re no longer “just one person;” you’re part of a well-oiled machine that can move quickly and decisively to clean up the oceans. What can you do? Here are a few ideas to get you started. Remember, you can choose more than one activity from the list!

Start Local

Find a local organization that works to reduce ocean-bound waste and join the effort.  The Surfrider Foundation is a great place to start, which oversees a far-reaching activist network that works on issues like reducing plastic pollution, keeping water sources clean, and maintaining healthy shoreline ecosystems. Even if you eventually team up with a national or international agency to clean up the oceans, it’s wise to begin locally, make contacts in your own city, and start building a network of people who have the same goal as you, namely cleaner oceans.

Contact Your Local, State and National Elected Officials

Get informed. Find out the official position of your local, state, and national political representatives on this vital issue. In the U.S., for instance, you can find a comprehensive list of politicians and officeholders at all levels on USA.gov. This kind of email-writing or phone contact is not ignored. Politicians respond to constituents for all kinds of reasons, some selfish and some not. For your purposes, the motivation behind their response doesn’t matter. The key thing is to make yourself, and your organization heard at the political level.

Support Ocean Organizations

and make it a point to donate to organizations that are on the clean-ocean team. You don’t have to be rich. Here’s an ideal way to approach the situation: find three organizations that work to clean up the oceans and donate $10 to each one. Subscribe to their newsletters, read the content on their websites, and do your best to patronize their sponsors. There are hundreds of such organizations, but a few of those that have excellent reputations for putting donated funds to good use are Oceana, 5 Gyres, and Take 3.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Take it to the “micro” level and drastically reduce your own use of plastic. Don’t waste water. Don’t create litter. Reduce, re-use, and recycle whenever possible. Even if your local municipality doesn’t do trash recycling, do it on your own. Keep plastic trash separate from glass, metal, and other refuse. Then, once every other week or so, drive the stuff to a local recycling center. Don’t let local politicians tell you that you can’t recycle. Stay one step ahead and take action by becoming a committed recycling advocate.

Avoid Lawn Chemicals

Stop using toxic chemicals when you work on your lawn. Speak to professionals about non-toxic, non-ocean-harming products that get the job done and don’t end up in the groundwater. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent lawn-care solutions that don’t make use of harmful chemicals. Educate yourself and become part of the solution rather than the problem.

Educate Others

Spread the word without making a nuisance of yourself. You’ll vastly increase the effectiveness of your efforts, especially the in-person ones if you take a pleasant, fact-based, gentle persuasive approach. Loud, rude, pushy activism is counter-productive.

There’s plenty to be done, but there’s also plenty that you can do. The oceans don’t need to serve as the personal trash dumps for humanity. We have the technology to recycle our waste and keep it out of the oceans. You are a part of the long-term remedy for the current problem. Make it a point to sit down, right now, and make a list of what you will do in the next three days to clean up the oceans.


Jennifer Hanzlick is an entrepreneur, speaker, and hoarding expert, who was inspired to create Clutter Trucker to help people remove the junk and clutter from their homes. Visit  http://www.cluttertrucker.com.