Balloons off the coast of BC, a significant threat to marine life ©Jackie Hildering
The Ocean of Good Campaign
An Ocean of Good
Why are plastics a problem?
- Plastics do not biodegrade into nutrients – rather, they slowly break down into smaller and smaller pieces, releasing chemicals that are harmful to all life.
- Microplastics attract toxins, which enter and build up in the food web.
- Plastics can repeatedly entangle animals, reducing their ability to move, blocking their airways and digestive tracts, and causing death.
- Drifting plastics can spread disease and transport invasive organisms that damage our local ecosystems.
- The production, transportation, and disposal of plastics produce emissions that contribute to climate change.
Entangled Humpback Cutter (BCX1438) ©MERS, MML-42
Plastic ropes, nets, buoys, and packaging materials make up a huge proportion of the debris on BC’s coast. These plastics can lead to entanglements that choke animals, cause them to drown, create infections, and limit their ability to feed or move properly.+ Learn More
In the ocean, animals often mistake plastics for food. This can lead to immediate death or to poor health due to toxin build-up, damage to their digestive tracts, and reduced ability to feed.+ Learn More
Plastic microfibres come from synthetic fabrics like polyester, acrylic, nylon, rayon, and spandex. They’re released into the environment mainly through machine washing/drying, and then attract toxins, build up in the food web, and cause harm to wildlife and humans.+ Learn More
Stop plastic ingestion by marine mammals
In the ocean, animals often mistake plastics for food. This can lead to immediate death or to poor health due to toxin build-up, damage to their digestive tracts, and reduced ability to feed.
Instead of single-use plastics, choose products that can be reused and are made from sustainable materials.
Avoid plastic packaging. Use products that have little to no plastic packaging, refill reusable containers, and purchase in bulk. Swap out goods made of plastic for sustainable, low-waste options.
If you can’t avoid plastic entirely, make sure it is properly recycled. Do not release balloons into the air. They come down eventually where animals mistake them for food or become entangled.
Butt out! Cigarette butts contain toxins and are made of a type of plastic that is a major source of microfibres. If you smoke, collect and recycle your butts.
Get involved! By collecting and sharing the data about what was collected and where it was, you provide evidence of the sources of plastic pollution. This helps support education and regulatory efforts to increase responsibility for reducing the sources of plastics found on beaches. Learn more via Surfrider Canada and the Ocean Wise Shoreline Cleanup.
Support plastic bans. The fastest and most far-reaching way to reduce plastic pollution is to support bans, especially bans on single-use plastics. Help businesses, organizations, and politicians reduce single-use plastics and other sources of plastic pollution by letting them know your concerns directly.
Share your positive actions and what you learn with others to help motivate additional positive change. Vote for policies and governments that reduce plastic pollution.
Help Reduce Entanglement in Plastics
Discarded plastic ropes, nets, buoys, and packaging materials can lead to entanglements that choke animals, cause them to drown, create infections, and limit their ability to feed or move properly.
Plastics with a loop (e.g. six-pack rings and packing bands) have an increased risk of entangling animals. Support bans on these items and sustainable alternatives. If there are plastics with a loop, cut them before proper disposal.
Report ghost gear – fishing gear that has been abandoned, lost or discarded- via the Ghost Gear Reporting App.
Considerable plastic pollution comes from the fishing industry. If you buy fish, support small-scale, traceable, local fisheries. Knowing who caught your fish enhances accountability for sustainable fishing. Use sustainability labels or ratings from Ocean Wise, Seafood Watch, or other independent seafood certification organizations to help.
Research conducted by MERS and DFO found that ~50% of Humpbacks off BC’s coast have scarring from entanglement. Learn more.
Support the use of alternative fishing practices and innovations that reduce the risk of entanglement, e.g. the use of ropeless gear and managing the time and location of fisheries to decrease the overlap with marine mammals.
Report ASAP. For marine mammals in BC, call the DFO Reporting Line 1-800-465-4336 or VHF Channel 16. For entangled terrestrial animals, contact the BC Conservation Officer Service 1-877-952-7277.
Maintain regulated distance. Take video/photos, to document the entanglement. Do NOT attempt to remove the entanglement. Learn more at this link.
Reduce plastic microfibre pollution
Plastic microfibres come from synthetic fabrics like polyester, acrylic, nylon, and spandex. They’re released into the environment mainly through machine laundry, and then attract toxins, build up in the food web and cause harm to wildlife and humans.
Choose durable clothing and home goods made of natural fibres like hemp, linen, cotton, wool, and bamboo.
If items made of synthetic fabrics can’t be avoided (e.g. rain gear), choose options that do not create new sources of plastic. Pick options made of recycled plastics or purchase second hand. Extra care needs to be taken in washing these items (see below).
Laundry instructions to reduce the shedding of microfibres:
- Wash clothes only when necessary and use short wash cycles
- Wash in cold water
- Reduce friction by washing full loads of clothing; using washing liquid instead of powder; and washing clothing with a rough surface (like jeans) separately from soft clothing (like fleece)
- Avoid high spin and delicate cycles
- Air dry
- Buy a microfibre filter or trap for your machine (e.g. Cora Ball; Filtrol 160; Guppy Friend; Lint LUV-R; Planetcare).
Support systemic change, such as mandatory filters on new washing machines, independent labeling of textiles on their microfibre release, and holding cigarette manufacturers responsible for their products’ waste (includes microfibres).
Share your positive actions and what you learn with others to motivate additional positive change.
This scientific study by Belzagui et al outlines the problem wiht cigratte butts and how they contribute microplastics to the environment
Uncover more about how our laundry may contribute to microplastic pollution with this Ocean Wise report.
Ocean Diagnostics provides a 101 on microplastics and how you can help
A global review and policy guidance on the dangers of packing bands to seals and sea lions.
The Pew Charitable Trust provides a comprehensive assessment of pathways towards stopping ocean plastic pollution.
Explore Canada’s new ban on single-use plastics
Oceana dives into Canada’s Plastic problem and sorts fact from fiction