by Ian Thomson
As boater, the ocean is our playground, and for some, it is our office. Every day we go out on the water we make an impact on our ocean, yet so many people are unaware of that very impact. So here are some alarming stats for you:
Gyre garbage - Help stop this - draw attention to the problem - get your boat Ocean Safe certified
• There is a garbage patch in the North Pacific containing enough rubbish to cover Australia or the U.S.A. 3m (10 feet) deep. There are four other garbage patches, one in every major ocean.
• The world uses 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags every year and it contributes to 100,000+ marine deaths from plastic suffocation and entanglement. Add another 1 million sea birds to that figure.
• The world drinks 200 billion litres of bottled water every year, contributing 20.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses to the environment and using enough oil to fill every bottle of water 25% full of oil. Only 30% of plastic water bottles are recycled around the world.
So if I said to you that the ocean produces 60-80% of the worlds oxygen and that our every day habits are slowly killing it, would it make you think twice? Yes I am saying that your habits are risking the very air we breathe.
Whilst I can quote how many animals die from plastic bags, I can't quote how many engines die or overheat from plastic bag ingestion. The dreaded plastic bag in the inlet is annoying to say the least and whilst many say they don't throw plastic bags in the ocean, the fact that 50% come from the rubbish dump will tell you that it is a major problem. Using an alternative is so easy so when you take your provisions to your boat next, please use a reusable bag. And if you're one of those lunatics that put plastic bags on your shrouds and lifelines to keep birds off, hope that I never run into you. They don't do the job and they end up fluttering in the wind, and break free into the ocean where they can end up killing a turtle or dolphin. Trust me I've pulled out three dead turtles because of plastic bags, it's not fun. Bunting is easier and more effective and the oceans will love you for it.
Rubbish in our oceans. - Ocean Crusaders
So how many of you use plastic water bottles on your boat. Ok so your tank water tastes funny so you decide the easiest way to provide water to your crew is in plastic water bottles. It's easy and convenient right? Let's look at the stats. First of all why does bottled water have a used by date? Water doesn't go off or our world would be in trouble. It is simply because by that date, it is expected that the plastic bottle has leeched enough toxins into the water to make it toxic to humans, and if you leave it in the sun you will have experienced that plastic taste. It is a product known as Bisphenol A (BPA). More and more studies are being released showing this substance, and other toxins from plastic, are causing all sorts of health issues including Autism, cancers and ADHD. Then you have the bottle which you recycle right? Firstly the caps are not recyclable and only 30% of bottles are sent for recycling with 60% of America's plastic going to India to be down-cycled (created into products that can't be recycled)
At Ocean Crusaders we focus on educating people of the issues our oceans face. We run an education program for primary school students to teach them about the animals in our oceans and what issues they are facing and how they can change their every day habits to help. The response is amazing so if someone who hasn't seen most of the world can make a difference, surely us as ocean users can make a difference. It's not hard. In fact when it comes to rubbish, why is it that children under 15 contribute only 1.5% of all rubbish yet once they hit 15 they become the biggest rubbish creators. Have a look at the graph. Which age group are you in?
Graph depicting age groups and percentage of rubbish dumped - Ocean Crusaders
So here is a challenge for everyone who owns a boatst. At Ocean Crusaders we have developed an Ocean Safe Certification program for yachts and boats. It is free of charge to join and it shows that you are committed to looking after our playground. It doesn't take much either.
Ocean Safe Certified Yacht logo - Ocean Crusaders
All you have to do is go to our website and follow the links to our Ocean Safe Certified Yacht program. If you can commit to five of our key guidelines, then you become certified.
The guidelines include never using plastic bags to bring provisions to your boat, not buying bottled water, instead using S/S reusable bottles and filling up from larger containers, using eco friendly bottom paints, recycling, using eco friendly cleaning agents and never using plastic plates and utensils. Pick five, fill out a form and we'll send you a sticker for your boat to show your support.
If one person couldn't make a difference then we would not exist. Every product you see around you, the computer you are currently on, the phone you use, the pen you write with, they were all one persons dream and they have made a difference. You simply changing your habits, particularly when you go down to your boat, well you could save the life of a turtle, you could save an engine being blown up from overheating and better still, you are helping our ocean live so we can breathe in the future.
For more information on all of the above, visit our website.
Download the lessons for your kids from our education program pages and maybe you'll learn something too. They are designed for school teachers to present to their class. If we don't have your country up there and you can help us get our program into your country, touch base with us.
But most importantly, please reduce the amount of plastic you are using, reuse any plastic you have to use and when you've finished with it, please recycle it. It's our actions today that determine the future.
Ocean Crusaders was started by Ian Thomson having picked up eight dead turtles out of the oceans of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. He began his campaign by setting the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of Australia. The campaign is run by volunteers and no one takes a wage, with all funds going to the delivery and development of the education program. Of course we always seek sponsors to enable us to do more and in particular are seeking a sponsor for the Ocean Safe Certified Yacht Program. If you can help please contact info(at)OceanCrusaders.org.
Ocean Crusaders website