In celebration of World Oceans Day, we caught up with the local Isla Vista Surfrider Foundation chapter to learn about why the ocean is at threat and what we can do to help.
Sanuk: So, why are our oceans so important?
Lily: The ocean is important for so many reasons. It covers 70 percent of our planet, helping to regulate the climate and produces over 50 percent of Earth’s oxygen, allowing us to breathe.
This is primarily due to our microscopic friends called phytoplankton and zooplankton who produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis. The ocean is key to our economic and daily lives. It’s not only a place for us to relax, but it’s also estimated to be the epicenter of roughly 40 million people’s jobs by 2030.
Sanuk: Okay, so super important. What threats are our oceans facing?
Jesse: The ocean and environment are being threatened by human action. We are creating and consuming too much waste that inevitably ends up harming our atmosphere or in our oceans. Which means the ocean can’t function properly.
Plastic is at the forefront of this problem, with the United States generating the largest amount of plastic waste in the world. Plastic and microplastics in the ocean not only harm marine ecosystems and species but also create hazardous chemicals that contaminate waterways and human health.
Mila: Almost all plastic is made using fossil fuels. If we continue on our same plastic trajectory, global emissions could reach 1.34 gigatons per year. Plastic problems were only exacerbated by Covid, so it’s important we start addressing the issues now.
Sanuk: What can we do to help?
Griffin: Key solutions include diverting waste and being a cautious consumer. These are some things we recommend doing:
Lily: Say no to single use plastic. This is a tried and true solution. Bring your own reusable utensils, bags, or cups whenever possible.
Daniela: Gift an experience, not an item. Buy your friend a ticket to a concert or restaurant gift card instead of a new pair of pants. Take a journey to your happy place!
Mila: Clean up after yourselves and others on the beaches and streets. Raise awareness of the issues and advocate for change through political action.
Griffin: And above all, simply use less. Ask yourself, do you really need that new thing? We need to focus on reducing and reusing, creating a circular economy, and holding big oil and other producers responsible!