For one, the best way every person can do their part in keeping our beaches and coastlines trash-free is by cleaning up after ourselves when we spend an afternoon in the sand. In a 2009 study done by California State University, 81% of people admitted to intentionally littering when they are at the beach - 57% of these people saying that they litter their used cigarettes. We can change this by making a conscious decision to throw our trash away in an appropriate container and recycle all items that are recyclable. Another way to reduce the amount of trash on the beach is by bringing reusable bags and containers for food. Instead of bringing a plastic bag with a plastic container of fruit, you could bring a reusable grocery bag with a glass container from home that you can wash out and use again. Little things like this is a huge step for bettering our environment and making the oceans a more beautiful place for both humans and marine life.
Another reason is because of poor public awareness. In many tourist areas, the beaches are for the most part trash-free and look pristine. This is a delusion for many tourists who believe that there is no ocean pollution in the area they are vacationing. The truth is: there is ocean pollution at every beach we swim at whether we can visibly see it or not. Buried under the white sand are cigarettes, bottle caps, and even more trash. Unfortunately, many people who smoke believe that the beach is a giant ash tray and will discard of their used cigarette butts on the beach. Cigarettes can take up to 10 years to break down and decompose. In that time, many seabirds will mistake them for food and our cigarette butts will end up in the stomachs of hundreds of thousands of marine birds. They cannot digest this material and it may give them a false feeling of being full and die of starvation as a result.
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