People look forward to the return of many things in spring: daffodils, asparagus, migrating birds, baseball. For me, spring signals the beginning of our season of trash cleanups. This year is certainly different, but it doesn’t mean our commitment to keep trash out of the ocean is taking a break. We are fortunate enough to continue our work to protect our ocean.
If you’re looking for ways to make a difference while also helping to #FlattentheCurve, here are some ways you can help us stem the tide of ocean plastics.
1. Learn about Marine Debris
We have educational resources for all ages to dive into:
- Talking Trash & Taking Action is Ocean Conservancy’s marine debris education program geared for youth. The learning materials can be adapted for a variety of ages. Our Instructor’s Guide is based on the latest scientifically sound information and is chock-full of lessons and activities that will introduce your kids to the marine debris problem. It will also help them to be informed and think creatively around solutions to preventing ocean trash altogether. The program is built around a cleanup activity, which can be skipped or done on a smaller scale, while respecting social distancing rules. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out this word search and coloring page.
- Our partners at The North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) have created an online guide of education materials. Their Parent Survival Series provides weekly activities for students K-12 that will spark interest in the marine environment. As part of this series, they have lessons around marine debris for you to use at home.
- We’re excited to partner with the University of Toronto Trash Team to present live readings with guest authors and scientists ready to dive into the exciting world of trash. Litter-ature for Waste Litter-acy is a four-week program where we dive into children’s books about plastic pollution in the ocean with very special guests ready to answer questions and inspire action. You can read more about the exciting line up here.
2. Turn Trash into Treasure
During this time, I find myself valuing what I have. Quarantine is a great time to practice the “reuse” part of the Three Rs. Here are some ideas of crafts you can do at home:
- Create hanging planters from plastic bottles
- Make a basket out of plastic bags
- Turn toilet paper rolls into lanterns
- Make your own recycled paper
- Turn bottles into beautiful planters
Not only is this a way to beef up your crafting skills at home, you are also preventing items from ending up as trash. You could even turn it into a social event and host a virtual craft party for everyone to learn how they can breathe beautiful new life into their disposables.
3. Become a Digital Advocate
You can support legislation to stem the tide of ocean plastics from home. For instance, the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act provides a sweeping set of policy measures which would aggressively reduce plastic waste and prevent it from entering the ocean from the start. You can use this time to contact your representatives in Congress and ask for their support. Together we can take a critical step forward in the fight against ocean plastics.
4. Reduced Waste (Where You Can)
We all need to stay safe and some items need to be sealed or packaged in plastic for medical and health reasons. Yet there are still ways we can reduce waste when ordering online. Look for vendors or options that minimize plastic packaging as much as possible. Batch online orders or, when possible, order things in bulk instead of individually-wrapped. Even the smallest steps can make a big impact for our ocean. To help #QuittheCutlery, some takeout vendors will forgo giving you plastic utensils if you ask them. You can even make DIY paper straws at home so you can continue to #SkiptheStraw.
As we continue to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ocean Conservancy is encouraging everyone, including our staff, partners, supporters and volunteers, to continue to practice social distancing to ensure our health and safety. While we may not be able to attend cleanups now, we can still help keep trash from reaching our ocean.