By Jack Hodgkiss 

Waves of plastic are ending up in our oceans every year, with 80% of this coming from land. This isn’t just a coastal problem; littered items across the country are flowing down our drains, canals and rivers to end up in the ocean. This can effect ecosystems throughout the UK. A recent study has shown that in the Rivers Thames and River Clyde a whopping 32% of fish had microplastics in their gut. This is worse for some types of fish, as another study found that up to 75% of European Flounder had ingested plastic. This impacts the entire food chain and plastics have even been discovered in the food we eat. It’s a whirlpool of a problem, but fortunately there are some simple steps we can take to help turn the tide on ocean plastic pollution.

1) Avoid 'tidy' littering…

The vast majority of us can say we would never ever litter, on purpose. Trying to use bins that are overflowing, leaving packaging in ‘tidy’ locations and dropping things like cigarette butts on the floor or down the drain are all common ways for litter to end up swimming in our waterways. Instead, it’s best to keep hold of any potential litter you have until a suitable and spacious bin can be found. Check if your packaging is recyclable by checking the label and keep hold of it until you find the right kind of bin.

2) Switch to reusables for smoother sailing

A simple lifehack to avoid searching for a bin is to just switch to reusable items instead. Some simple switches you can make today include getting a reusable hot drinks cup (many locations will give you a decent discount too!), a reusable water bottle (many businesses will be happy to refill this free of charge), and a reusable bag. Carrying these kinds of items will save you time, money, and reduce the chance of anything you buy ending up in the sea.

3) Go the extra (nautical) mile

If you do feel like going above and beyond your land-lubbing duty, you can help by picking up lost pieces of litter and placing them in a nearby bin before they blow away. Watch our message in a bottle video to see how we thanked people who did exactly that. If you’re lucky enough to live by a shore, river, or canal, there are likely litter-picking events scheduled to take place near you. Try searching for litter-picking in your area on social media or a search engine (or just grab a pick and get stuck in yourself). The fish will thank you!

4) Think about what you flush…

It’s not a great thought, but sometimes the things you flush down the toilet can end up swimming with the fishes. Things that you’re not meant to flush can end up in the ocean, they can also cause blockages leading to sewage overflowing into our rivers and streets. Yuck! Some wet-wipes which are sold as ‘flushable’ can also cause blockages as they can take a long time to degrade, so stick to placing these in the bin instead. Just remember the 3 P’s (pee, poo and paper), if in doubt keep it out.

5) Bring Plastic Fishing to your area

Next year, thanks to the Starbucks 5p cup charge, we’re launching our Plastic Fishing Tour. The tour will see a recycled plastic boat visit 4 towns or cities across the UK. We’ll invite local communities to set sail and fish plastics out of the waterways – clearing the area and raising local awareness on the issue. We’ll then be giving away the boat to one of these four communities to enable them to offer regular Plastic Fishing trips. If this sounds like something you’d like to see visit your local waterway or if you’re a group that would want to win the boat, click here to find out how to apply today.

Tell us which of these tips were most helpful or tell us what else you're doing to cut plastic pollution by using the #PlasticFishing hashtag. You can also leave a comment below or email us. We’d love to hear from you.