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Our Oceans Need Help

Plastics are polluting our oceans at an unmanageable rate. What doesn’t end up floating on top of the ocean or washing up on shore, eventually drops down to its depths and finds its way into the sediment at the bottom. This form of pollution has been a hot topic for years and while promising solutions are being explored for alternatives to PET (polyethylene terephthalate), we still have to deal with decades of plastic pollution that goes back to the 1950’s.

PET plastic can be found in single-use plastic water bottles. It is associated with health risks such as stunted growth, reproduction issues, low energy levels, body balance issues, and inability to process stress.

PET can break down into tiny pieces called microplastics. Microplastics can be found in our oceans, bays, lakes, drinking water, and even our soil. 

How Much Plastic Gets Into the Ocean?

80% of the plastic in the ocean is land-based and 20% from boats and marine sources. Leakage from landfill sites contributes. So does littering. Litter gets carried away by rainwater and wind and ultimately ends up in streams, rivers, and through drain pipes ends up in the ocean. Illegal dumping also contributes.

The sad truth is we are consuming far more plastics than recycling can manage. Check out the following key points from the 2022 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – Global Plastics Outlook.

      • Plastic consumption has quadrupled over the past 30 years, driven by growth in emerging markets. Global plastics production doubled from 2000 to 2019 to reach 460 million tons.
      • Plastics account for 3.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
      • Global plastic waste generation more than doubled from 2000 to 2019 to 353 million tons. Nearly two-thirds of plastic waste comes from plastics with lifetimes of under five years, with 40% coming from packaging, 12% from consumer goods and 11% from clothing and textiles.
      • Only 9% of plastic waste is recycled (15% is collected for recycling but 40% of that is disposed of as residues). Another 19% is incinerated, 50% ends up in landfill and 22% evades waste management systems and goes into uncontrolled dumpsites, is burned in open pits or ends up in terrestrial or aquatic environments, especially in poorer countries.

Is There Any Good News?

Well…there is a little good news on a few fronts. From plastic eating worms that slowly break down plastic to a plastic eating enzyme that breaks down plastics in hours to oyster mushrooms breaking down microplastics in cigarette butts, new research is ongoing. Although these two approaches show promise with recycling and upcycling plastic, they do little to help the plastic that already exists in our oceans and waterways. However, some progress is being made with removing plastics from our oceans and waterways. 

We’re pleased to see the efforts of the Ocean Cleanup Project, who use a dual strategy to clean up plastic: intercepting plastic in rivers to cut the inflow of pollution, and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean and won’t go away by itself. Since 2023 their System 03 has been deployed in the GPGP (Great Pacific Garbage Patch) and harvesting has been very promising. The project has plans to scale up a fleet of System 03 methodology to extract unprecedented amounts of plastic. The Ocean Cleanup projects to be able to remove 90% of floating ocean plastic by 2040.

But what about the plastic that’s in other parts of the oceans and waterways? What about the plastic that’s already broken down and is in our water? And where does the plastic that is removed from the ocean go? It moves from one location to the next. That’s why we feel efforts need to be made on every front possible and we want to help. That’s where the Water T Project comes in. 

The Water T Project

Clearly humans, aquatic mammals, and fish need clean water to survive. To bring awareness to the impact that water pollution is having, noted Midwest artist Steven J. Athanas created some thought-provoking drawings like the ones below which will be printed on t-shirts to bring home the important message of water conservation and preservation. We like to think of these drawings as visual pokes in the eye designed to wake people up by communicating important messages. (These four drawings are just the start of the program. Steven’s working on a few more “inspirational” drawings.) We’re calling this project  “The Water T Project”.

Each drawing will be printed on high-quality, 100% cotton materials using eco-friendly inks. Water T’s can be purchased on two different websites – Sea King CBD and All Things Ath. The regular price of each shirt is $55.00 but is currently being sold for 50% off. We plan on donating money 75% of the net profits from t-shirt sales to non-profits who are involved in shoreline and ocean cleanup activities. More details to follow soon.

Make sure and read our blog article on how water has emotion and memory. Water truly is magic.

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