By Jack Hodgkiss 

Waves of plastic are ending up in our oceans and 80% of this comes from land. This isn’t just a coastal problem, litter across the country is flowing down our drains, canals and rivers to end up in the ocean. A recent study has shown that in the River Thames and the 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) Look out for '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. Read our top-tips page on how you can further cut down your plastic. 

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 if you can't find one - contact your local council to get involved. 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) Convince your mateys to recycle

Plastic is a valuable resource, but you wouldn't think so when 14% of visible litter in our rivers is plastic bottles. Our Plastic Fishing project aims to raise awareness on just how incredible recycled plastic can be - our Plastic Fishing punt is the first boat of its kind to be made from 99% recycled plastic. Share with your friends to help prevent their plastic bottles becoming buried treasure.