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New Ocean Wise campaign tackles plastic pollution

Plastic pollution in the ocean. Shutterstock Plastic has long been a ubiquitous part of modern life. Ocean Wise scientists were sounding the alarm Wednesday saying that microplastic pollution is threatening ocean life right here in Vancouver. Dr.

 Plastic pollution in the ocean. ShutterstockPlastic pollution in the ocean. Shutterstock

Plastic has long been a ubiquitous part of modern life.

Ocean Wise scientists were sounding the alarm Wednesday saying that microplastic pollution is threatening ocean life right here in Vancouver.

Dr. Peter Ross, vice-president of research at Ocean Wise and a leading microplastic expert, said his team found 1,258 tiny particles of plastic in one cubic metre in a sample of seawater taken from the waters near the Vancouver Convention Centre, which is this week hosting the GLOBE Sustainability Forum where global business and government leaders have gathered to talk about a clean economy.

“We have found microplastic particles in every sample of seawater we’ve analyzed from around the world, and Vancouver, despite being one of the world’s greenest cities, is no exception,” Ross said in a press release. “This microplastic pollution is coming from many sources, including plastic from single use items that have broken down over time in the ocean.”

Ocean Wise Wednesday kicked off its #BePlasticWise pledge campaign at the forum, with the aim of raising awareness about ocean plastic and building collective action by asking people to reduce plastic waste.

“The threat of plastic waste in a real challenge to both aquatic life and marine ecosystems,” Ocean Wise president and CEO John Nightingale said in a press release. “Plastic contamination is found from pole to pole, so the high levels of microplastics we’re finding in an ocean city as green as Vancouver raise the question: what does this mean for other parts of the world that are not as pristine?”

Nightingale said Ocean Wise is asking for pledges from government, industry and the public to tackle ocean plastics.

“Ocean Wise has been leading ocean plastic research since 2013, but this issue needs all of us to take small steps towards big solutions for our ocean,” he said. “Action comes with interest and awareness, and we encourage everyone to take the pledge, share your involvement and protect our ocean.”

According to Ocean Wise, studies show that one million water bottles are sold every minute around the world and every year 500 billion plastic bags are used globally. Plastic is finding its way into the ocean at a rate of one dump truck full every minute and a recent study predicted that plastic consumption will double in the next 20 years.

#BePlasticWise pledge participants will receive monthly lifestyle challenges to help them reduce single-use plastic over the course of a year — starting with a Coffee Break in March to reduce the use of takeout plastic-lined cups and lids. Ocean Wise will also provide tips, ocean stories and videos for living a more ocean-friendly life.

For more information, or to sign the pledge, visit ocean.org/pledge.

jkerr@vancourier.com

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