Skip to content
Home » On this World Recycle Day, Think About Coral Reefs

On this World Recycle Day, Think About Coral Reefs

On this World Recycle Day, Think About Coral Reefs

On this World Recycle Day, think about coral reefs. Every year, Global Recycling Day (March 18) inspires consumers to reflect on their recycling best practices and move forward with change. It’s a great cause and an important milestone. But this year, let’s take it a step further and consider phasing out single-use plastic altogether.

The world’s coral reefs are home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. More than 4,000 types of fish reside in and around coral reefs. And also more than a million aquatic species depend on reefs at some point in their life cycle. Unfortunately, when plastic spills into the ocean, it also finds its way into coral reefs. Also causing serious problems for these complex marine structures. The good news is that you don’t have to live near the ocean to have an impact on coral reefs. Just consider how the plastic you buy, use and dispose of can easily end up in waterways, where it can harm fish, birds, coral reefs, and more. Your role as a consumer puts you in a position of power – and you can use that position to advocate for change and reduce the amount of trash that harms our coral reefs and the whole planet.

Plastic-specific problems

The impact of trash on the oceans can be seen in heartbreaking photos – wildlife trapped in plastic, the Great Pacific Garbage Landfill where seven million square kilometers of water are covered with microplastics and trash floating, and beaches littered with trash.

But these images are just the tip of the iceberg of the damage to the oceans. Beneath the surface, garbage and especially plastic are taking their toll. Plastics account for about 18 percent of landfill waste and millions of tons of waste end up in our oceans each year.

A 2018 study gave us a better understanding of the impact all these plastics have on coral reefs in particular. Researchers studied 159 coral reefs in Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Myanmar and found that when corals were exposed to plastic, the likelihood of disease increased from 4% to 89%. Floating pieces of plastic block sunlight spread pathogens, and cut corals, making them more susceptible to infection. Research also shows that coral reefs off the coast of Australia have the least amount of plastic nearby. This may be due to more robust waste management systems than in the other areas studied as well as the fact that coral reefs are much farther from shore. 

Climate change and waste

Climate change is already having alarming effects on coral reefs around the world. From warming temperatures and rising sea levels to extreme weather and ocean acidification, every ocean inhabitant is faced with changes in their environment, and these changes will only accelerate. Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable and so many other living things depend on them for their survival.

In 2016, more than half of the reefs faced extreme heat stress and 29% of the Great Barrier Reef died. Between 2014 and 2017, 75% of the world’s coral reefs experienced heat bleaching. We know that climate change and warming water are a direct result of carbon in the atmosphere and that fossil fuel extraction is what releases all of that CO2.

Research shows that corals can adapt to the effects of climate change if they are healthy, but this requires two things: it forces us to keep them healthy (i.e., we don’t let our waste end up in the oceans) and it forces us to reduce the rate of emissions.

As we use and buy more plastic, we continue to contribute to the cycle of fossil fuels and climate change.

Consider a single-use plastic water bottle:

When something like a plastic bottle is used once and then thrown away, not only does it clog our oceans and become a threat to marine life, but its short lifespan also means that manufacturers pump more carbon into the atmosphere to meet these single-use needs.

How to become a reef protector

The good news is that you don’t have to live near the ocean to protect a reef. You can start by changing your drinking habits and then go further by advocating a higher level of change.

  • The first step is to become a more conscious consumer: embrace the reuse movement!
  • Shop at grocery stores that have large bins and bring your own reusable bags and containers for filling.
  • Avoid buying items wrapped in unnecessary plastic packaging. Bring your own takeout box to the restaurant.
  • Try fixing something broken instead of replacing it. Then take it to the next level by becoming an advocate for change.
  • Promote policies to limit waste and limit greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Use your voice as a voter to sign the petition.
  • Let your government officials know you are interested in writing and calling.
  • And do it yourself – pressuring companies to adopt more eco-friendly practices and reduce the impact of their manufacturing and packaging processes.
  • And finally, talk about it. Help change the culture of consumerism by using your voice and sharing your story on social media and in social circles.

The more we talk about environmental issues, the more we normalize them. And these ideas are certainly worth normalizing 카지노사이트