If 2018 was the year of "Single-Use," according to Collins Dictionary, then 2019 DOES NOT have to be. With so many people, environmental groups, companies, and governments now paying attention, there is a glimmer of hope that we can begin to turn the tide on the ocean plastic epidemic.
Since it is now 2019, we have decided to leave the past in the past and take a forward look around the world at some of the things that are casting a positive light on the problem of single-use and ocean plastic. Have a look at these five stories below and comment about what's going on in your life or community so we can see how you all are making a difference, one pound at a time.
While this study is heavy on the scientific language, it demonstrates the basic principle that microbes are potentially adapting and developing enzymes, in this case, called "PETase," that can break down our man-made plastics such as PET single-use water bottles. This could be a huge breakthrough if we are able to understand and harness these mechanisms and would be a great starting point for industrial biotech and synthetic biology to help address the threat by creating future plastics that biodegrade readily in the environment.
Most of us know that Costa Rica has been leading the way globally on renewable energy, but ever since their president Carlos Alvarado Quesada was elected, they have made new commitments to be plastic-free as well by 2021. This is a relatively small country with a long history of being environmentally conscious, so it will be interesting to see if they can reach their goals. If they can, it would be a huge signal to the rest of the world that sustainability and the reduction of single-use plastic to the point of it no longer being a problem is possible.
According to one study by Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, the Indus and Ganges rivers are ranked second and sixth respectively for the plastic load they carry to the ocean. So it is no surprise that fishermen off the coast are catching this single-use plastic along with their fish. In the past, it was common practice to simply throw this plastic back into the ocean but now they are collecting it and turning it into roads. The plastic roads are more resilient to India's soaring heat and every kilometer of road is equivalent to 1 million plastic bags.
With 100,000 flights taking off around the world each day, more than four billion passengers flying last year, and those numbers expected to double in the next 20 years, Hi Fly could really be on to something big. Their goal is to be plastic free by the end of 2019 and setting the bar for other¬†global brands is the first step.
In 2019 at 4ocean, we are looking to make the biggest impacts on the most highly-affected areas in the world when it comes to cleaning up the ocean and coastlines. Our goal is to collect massive amounts of plastic and other man-made debris before it ever makes it into the open ocean. That's why we launched the Ocean Plastic Recovery cleanup operation that will allow us to collect and transport this plastic in some of the most polluted places on earth. We are so excited about this we can hardly stand it, so follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up with the story as we make progress towards a more sustainable future for the ocean.
Each year we mark World Oceans Day on our calendar knowing that it's one of our biggest opportunities to reach millions of people around the world at once with our message of a cleaner ocean. This year, New York City, the United Nations, the Peace Boat, and Rockaway Beach played host to the 4ocean team for the weekend and as it turns out, World Oceans Day 2019 was an adventure beyond our wildest expectations.
Traveling 80 miles across the Gulfstream in the Atlantic Ocean can be a daunting task in a boat. Now think about making that same crossing on a paddleboard — intimidating, right? Now imagine that you have cystic fibrosis, an inherited disorder that causes damage to your lungs as well as other organs. Do you think you could make it?
For our May 2019 bracelet, we had the chance to showcase an animal that generally doesn't get a lot of attention when it comes to ocean conservation––the incredible octopus. But thanks to "Octo Girl" and her research, these animals may play an even bigger role in the future health of coral reefs and the ocean.