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Whether or not we realize it, we all depend on a healthy ocean. Despite this fact, humans produce one of the greatest threats to our ocean’s health—pollution. What kind of pollution? The California Coastal Commission uses the term “marine debris,” and defines it as any manufactured or processed solid waste material that enters the marine environment from any source.
Marine debris endangers wildlife by way of entanglement, ingestion, and disruption of aquatic habitats. It can also impact human health and safety. Trash in our waterways can affect water quality and the fish that we eat. We are constantly surrounded by items that could eventually end up harming our ocean. So, how do they escape and end up in this vast body of water?
According to the California Coastal Commission, only 20% of items found in the ocean can be linked to ocean-based sources, such as commercial fishing vessels, cargo ships, etc. The remaining 80% comes from land-based sources, such as litter, industrial discharges, and garbage management. As a land-dwelling species that creates this pollution, we are responsible for where it goes!
Trash travels via streams, rivers, storm drains, sewers, even on the wind—and eventually comes to the coast. Most streams and rivers flow toward the ocean, so it’s not surprising when trash that falls into a river ultimately ends up in the ocean. As the species that creates the pollution, we should also be the species that makes sure it stays out of our waterways. There are many ways to take action, including using less stuff and making careful consumer choices. However, one outstanding way to make a difference is to participate in the largest statewide volunteer event, California Coastal Cleanup Day.
Mark your calendars for this year’s California Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, September 20, 9 am–Noon!
Be a part of the solution, not the pollution—and let’s make trash extinct!