Let’s learn about the 5R’s

marco-island-beaches

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

Yessenia Martinez, Contributing Writer

Living in Florida, we are never too far from the beach. Tourists from around the world travel to Marco Island for our beautiful beaches and soft sand, but as we continue to ignore the pollution crisis, these beaches are taking a drastic turn. Our oceans are being polluted with more and more plastic.

The environmental harm from ocean plastic pollution is becoming more apparent in our everyday lives. Thanks to social media, videos of animals getting stuck in plastic and campaigns around cleaning the ocean have reached millions of users. One startling statistic from the World Economic Forum shares that

“there may be more plastic than fish in the ocean, by weight, by 2050. Even by 2025, the ratio of plastic to fish in the ocean is expected to be one to three.”

— World Economic Forum

 

Having grown up with the beach not even five minutes away, this has me concerned. It seems now that just about every time I go to the beach, I can find pieces of plastic and other trash just lying on our vulnerable beaches. 

So what can we as individuals do to help this problem? Well, some of us may remember the 3R’s, “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle,” but let’s add a few more to that. The Earth Day Network has changed it up a little with five words; reduce, refuse, reuse, recycle, and remove. This may not seem like a lot, but it’s sure to make a drastic difference when implementing this into our lives. Here’s what they mean and how you can practice the 5 Rs in your everyday life. Having grown up with the beach not even five minutes away, this has me concerned. It seems now that just about every time I go to the beach, I can find pieces of plastic and other trash just lying on our vulnerable beaches. 

The 5 R’s: 

Reduce: You should be reducing the number of plastic products that you are using. Take a look at your everyday items. See how products you can buy without them being in or made of plastic.

Refuse: When you go out, you will be presented with many single-use plastics that are meant to be disposed of quickly. Items can include plastic bags, plastic utensils, and plastic straws. We should be conscious consumers and be on the lookout for these products and refuse to accept them when possible.

Reuse: Rather than quickly throwing out containers and products, we can think of other ways to use them. Reusable items are another great option for everyday living.

Recycle: If you cannot reduce, refuse, or reuse, you should see if the plastic can be recycled. For more information on what can be recycled in Collier County, click on the link.

Remove: While we might not enjoy picking up after others, it is crucial to prevent plastic from ending up in the environment, whether on land or the ocean. Look for local beach clean-ups and pick up litter when you see it.  

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko