Last summer I went on a flotilla holiday around the beautiful Greek Sporades Islands and to be honest, I was shocked at the number of plastic bags and bottles that were floating out in the middle of the sea.

Since becoming a mum to a four-legged white fluffy toy poodle called Noa, I have become a bit of an animal loving softie. Unfortunately, not enough to become a fully-fledged vegan, but it has certainly made me care more about animals and think about what we can do to make sure they have a better life.

One thing that I have always found fascinating – and that aims to do its ‘bit’ for the planet by saving sea creatures – is the Ocean Cleanup project. If you are not familiar with what the Ocean Cleanup is, it is an organisation dedicated to removing debris from the ocean. It was founded in 2013 by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat who was just 18 at the time. To date it has raised more than £15million in funding.

Under the surface

Here are some interesting facts about pollution in the ocean:

• Over one million seabirds are killed by ocean pollution each year
• 300,000 dolphins and porpoises die each year as a result of becoming entangled in discarded fishing nets, among other items
• Over 100,000 sea mammals are killed in the ocean by pollution each year
• There are 25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean

On 8th September this year, the Ocean Cleanup began its first major effort in the Pacific Ocean. The project – nicknamed Wilson after the volleyball in Castaway – consists of 60 floating booms joined together in a horseshoe shape. Each boom is attached to a three-meter deep skirt which collects plastic waste larger than one centimetre, including discarded fishing nets. The team of scientists and engineers working on Wilson plan to remove the debris every six weeks before transferring it to the Netherlands to be recycled.

You can help!

I think what people forget when they throw a plastic bottle or bag on the floor is that it will not degrade. While plastic breaks down into smaller pieces, it never actually disappears. Today, plastic is the number one source of pollution in the ocean. Another huge problem is that sea creatures confuse the plastic debris with food and this is usually fatal. I am sure you have probably already seen the gruelling video of the turtle with a big lump of plastic stuck up his nostril.

So, if you are interested in helping, here are just a few handy tips for where to start.

• Use paper straws
• Use a reusable bag such as the woven ones they sell in many major supermarkets
• Use a travel mug and avoid buying bottles of drink
• Buy boxes instead of plastic bottles (drinks, washing powder)

Leila Hrycyszyn

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