Estuaries are places where the salt water of the sea meets fresh water from the land. Because of this connection, the health of both the oceans and creeks can make a difference for our bay.
We invite you to help keep Morro Bay healthy by participating in World Oceans Day next Wednesday, June 8. This year, we’re focusing on ways to help keep plastics out of our waterways. We know that plastic waste can cause big problems for wildlife and water quality in the ocean. As it biodegrades into ever smaller particles, it attracts toxins and can even enter the food chain.
Fortunately, there are easy things that we can all do to reduce the amount of plastic waste that enters our oceans and other waterways. We ask you to try at least one of these ideas out on World Oceans Day.
Wash Synthetic Fabrics Less Often
We’ve written before about microplastics and the negative effect they can have on the oceans. Microplastics come from several sources. They can form from large plastic items that break down over time. They can also start off small. Cosmetic and hygienic products that contain microbeads are one common source. (A federal ban on microbeads is set to begin on July 1, 2017.)
Synthetic fabrics like fleece can also produce microplastics.
One study found that a single fleece garment sheds about 1,900 fibers each wash. According to a study conducted by students at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, synthetic fleece jackets lose about 1.7 grams of microfibers each wash, and—because these fibers are so small that they aren’t captured by typical laundry filters—they make their way to the local wastewater treatment plant, where 40% of them enter local waterways.
If you own synthetic garments (most of us do), you can help keep microplastics out of of the water by washing those items less often. You can also purchase aftermarket filters for home use that are specially designed to capture the fibers that shed.
Commit to Reusable Bags
Maybe you rely on single-use plastic bags from the store. Maybe you own reusable bags, but don’t always remember to bring them in from the car or take them out of your purse when you go shopping. World Oceans Day is the perfect time to start putting reusable bags to good use. Why not pledge to use only reusable bags for one full year? Considering that the average American family takes home 1,500 plastic shopping bags per year, your commitment will definitely make a difference!
Repurpose Plastic Items at Home
Could your old plastic shower curtain be turned into an outdoor tarp? Could you wash, rinse, and reuse salsa tubs and peanut butter jars as Tupperware? Find creative ways to give existing plastics a new life. Post a picture of your reused item to our Facebook page, or tag us on Twitter or Instagram (@MorroBayNEP) and we’ll share your story to inspire others.
Pack a Picnic Box
Reduce waste from takeout containers by having the real stuff on hand. Pack some extra plates, cups, silverware, and Tupperware into a reused tub or cardboard box and keep it near your door or in your car trunk. This way, you’ll have all of the necessary items on hand if you decide to grab takeout food or have a picnic. Skipping the disposable forks, spoons, plates, cups, straws, etc. means creating less waste.
Your Own Ideas
Have your own ideas for how to reduce your plastic use and keep plastic out of our waterways? Share them with us through social media!