There are many ways to address the marine debris issue. There is great value in removing the vast amount of debris that already clogs our waters, and in learning more about the problem through scientific research in order to better address it in the future. However, the ultimate solution to the problem lies in one general approach: prevention. Preventing debris from entering our waters in the first place, or effectively “turning off the tap,” is how we can stop this problem from continuing to get worse. There are many ways in which to go about preventing marine debris—starting with curbing your own contribution by following the 4Rs and choosing to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle; or going further by spreading the word to others within your family, friends group, community, or even broader if you can. Ensuring you and others are knowledgeable about the issue and know how to help is an extremely important step in the fight against marine debris!
Several organizations, groups, and individuals are dedicating time to marine debris prevention. One recent example of a novel awareness and prevention effort is through the Ocean Plastics Lab, an international travelling exhibit, composed of four shipping containers converted into an outdoor and interactive display. This exhibit was created by the German Marine Research Consortium and is supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the European Commission. It began its tour of marine debris outreach last year in Turn, Italy. It’s designed to teach the public about the role of science and technology in understanding and addressing the problem of plastic marine debris. Visitors to the exhibit experience the different types of plastic debris, how science is detecting its impacts on our ocean, and the efforts toward long-term solutions. In the coming weeks, through the collaborative work of the exhibit’s creators as well as NOAA, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the National Park Service, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and others, the Ocean Plastics Lab is making its only planned U.S. stop at the National Mall in Washington D.C. If you’re in the area June 4th – 17th, stop by and check it out!
For more information on the exhibit and information on visiting, visit the Ocean Plastics Lab website.