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The Ugly Journey of Our Trash - What do you know?

Project AWARE News

When I was a kid, our school used to run annual cleanups. It was always really fun. Firstly, we got to miss classes - yippee! But secondly - and more importantly - we discussed how we can protect the environment, we designed posters with messages, and talked about actions we could take to stop littering. I felt like I could take on the world and make it a better place.

But with that sense of empowerment, I never really made the connection that the rubbish on the school playing field or on the street could be carried by the wind, to the storm drain, down the river and out to the ocean. It never occurred to me that our rubbish would go on a journey, and once at its destination, pollute and destroy.

It wasn't until I took my first breath underwater as a scuba diver that I discovered something different. Suddenly, the connection was made. I understood that trash dropped on the way to the beach, a cigarette thrown out a car window, a plastic bag caught by the wind and commercial rubbish overflow are caught in storm drains, waterways or rivers, making its way on a journey to the ocean. There it sits. Out of sight, out of mind - smothering reefs, causing marine creatures to gasp for air and entangling our ocean wildlife.

With our taste for plastic increasing we're seeing a world that's turning our ocean into a rubbish dump. Global annual plastic production has boomed from 1.7 million tons in 1950 to almost 300 million tons today. And the impact this has is huge.

All seven species of sea turtle, over half marine mammal species and almost two thirds of all seabirds have ingested or become entangled in marine debris. More than one in ten species eating our rubbish is threatened with extinction. Even birds can't dodge the plastic bullet - 95% of northern fulmars have ingested plastic debris.

Although these statistics are scary, I do still feel empowered to make a change - just like I did when I was a school girl. And since becoming a diver this passion has now intensified.

I've seen firsthand the destruction marine debris can cause, I've removed hooks from fish's mouths and I've removed nets, line and plastic from our ocean. Through Dive Against Debris I can be part of a solution for change, sharing an underwater perspective of trash in our ocean and reporting my data. And if I can take action against marine debris, so can you.

As people all around the world celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8, here are two things you can do to make a positive impact and be a part of the solution:

1. Watch and share The Ugly Journey of Our Trash. Help by educating your community, friends and colleagues on how our rubbish becomes the ocean's problem.

2. Dive Against Debris - Next time you're heading for a dive, don't let it go to waste. Join me and tens of thousands of divers worldwide who remove and report rubbish found underwater on every dive.

Together, we can shine a light on the impact of marine debris and share our view for the world to see. You can download a poster and web code of the Ugly Journey of our Trash here.

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