My wife and I love to go sailing in the ocean off of Fort Pierce Inlet during the months of May, June, and July. The water turns that magnificent turquoise color that we see on the Chamber-of-Commerce calendar. The seas tend to be low, with very little chop, and the winds are often fair and steady. Unfortunately, as we sail along we regularly see those silver balloons that flash like a series of mirrored beacons as they bob on the waves. Often, as we sail towards them to fish them out of the water, we pass by numerous plastic bottles that have blown from the sterns of boats.
The good news is that very little plastic waste that finds its way into the oceans comes from North America. According to an article in the Globe and Mail, “North America is the source of just 0.9% of the world’s ‘mismanaged’ plastic.”1 In fact, according to a 2015 study published by sciencemag.org, China is responsible for 27.7% of mismanaged waste, followed by Indonesia at 10.1%, and at 5% or more are the Philippines, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. The United States produces only 0.9% of mismanaged plastic waste and the coastal nations of the European Union produce a little more than 1%. Even Brazil only produces 1.5% of the world’s mismanaged plastic waste. 2 Boaters generally aren’t throwing bottles overboard, it is just that an empty plastic bottle is extremely light and boats are windy places. Still, that doesn’t alter the fact that we use too much unnecessary plastic and too much of it despoils the beauty of our oceans, forests, rivers, and the landscape around us. One way we have tried to reduce waste at Treasure Coast Financial Planning is by using our own stainless-steel water bottles. I estimate that, during the last six years, we have avoided using approximately 18,000 plastic bottles. Stainless steel keeps water cold and doesn’t leach plastic molecules into the water you drink. Wendy and I bring both stainless-steel bottles and larger stainless-steel containers on the boat with us for conservation reasons and for the fact that the water tastes better. Plus, it is good to stay hydrated.
1.) Gardner, Dan. “If we’re going to save our oceans from plastics, we have to address where it all comes from.” The Globe and Mail, June 10, 2019.https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-if-were-going-to-save-our-oceans-from-plastics-we-have-to-address/ .
2.) Jambeck, Jenna R. Geyer; Wilcox, Siegler, Perrymand, Andrady, Narayan, Law. “Plastic waste inputs from land into ocean” Science, Vol. 347, Issue 6223, pp. 768-771.https://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/768 .