5 Ways to Love the Ocean on World Oceans Day

Every year on June 8, people across the globe come together to honor our oceans and all that they do to keep us alive. If you’re looking for ways to celebrate the seas, here are 5 ways to love the ocean on World Oceans Day, even if you don’t happen to be near a coastline.

1. Watch: Webinars About the Ocean

Find knowledge and inspiration about our oceans from a few amazing panels of experts in a few of our favorite Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) webinars. PPC’s Global Webinar Series brings together our community of experts to share the latest information, tips, and resources to stop the growing plastic pollution crisis.

In our June 2023 webinar, Plastic-Free Seas: Diving Into How Plastic Impacts Health, Climate, and Our Oceans, we discussed the challenges that plastic pollution poses to our oceans and our bodies, how polluted waters disrupt the mental health benefits we gain from access to healthy oceans and waterways, and how we may restore our planet as well as our own physical and mental well-being.

During Deep Ocean to Outer Space: Plastic Pollution Solutions, in December 2020, we discussed the impacts of and potential solutions to plastic pollution in the ocean, as well as in outer space.

2. Read: Blogs About the Ocean

Surfers are some of the biggest advocates for our oceans, and were among the first people to call attention to the global plastic pollution crisis. Learn more about a dedicated subculture of wave riders who have turned to activism to protect the beaches and waters they love from plastic pollution in our blog Celebrating the Surfers Turning the Tide on Plastic Pollution.

For people in the Northern Hemisphere, June means summertime: the perfect time of year to enjoy the beach or recreate in the oceans. It’s also the perfect time to rethink your beauty routine and make better choices to benefit our oceans, environment, and your health. Check out 10 Tips for a Summer Beauty Routine that is Healthier for Our Oceans.

3. Read or Listen: Books About the Ocean

Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans by Captain Charles Moore with Cassandra Phillips 

Read the story of Captain Charles Moore’s encounter with the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (The North Pacific Gyre) in 1997, and his return in 1999 to collect samples of microplastics for analysis on his custom built research vessel, ORV Alguita. The results of his first study in 1999 were shocking: plastic pollution caught in his research nets outweighed zooplankton, tiny animals that make up the base of the ocean’s food web, by a factor of six to one. As one of the main drivers of plastic pollution awareness, Captain Moore and Plastic Ocean remind us that an ocean free of plastic pollution is of utmost importance to the survival of all species. Learn more.

Junk Raft: An Ocean Voyage and a Rising Tide of Activism to Fight Plastic Pollution by Marcus Eriksen

In 2008, two sailors drifted across the North Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii on a raft made from 15,000 plastic bottles tied in old fishing nets stuffed under a Cessna 310 Aircraft.  They called the vessel “JUNK.” The purpose of their 88-day, 2600-mile voyage was to build awareness and help build a movement to save our seas from plastic pollution. Marcus Eriksen, co-founder of 5 Gyres, who was one of those two sailors, tells the story. He shows us that there’s a great divide between how industry sees the future and what the movement demands.  This book is not only a story of adventure, but a vision of how we bridge that divide. Learn more.

Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis By Erica Cirino

Much of what you’ve heard about plastic pollution may be wrong. Instead of a great island of trash, the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of manmade debris spread over hundreds of miles of sea—more like a soup than a floating garbage dump. Recycling is more complicated than we were taught: less than nine percent of the plastic we create is recycled, and the majority ends up in the ocean. Erica Cirino, now Communications Manager at PPC, brings readers on a globe-hopping journey to meet the scientists and activists telling the real story of the plastic crisis. Learn more.

4. View: Ocean Art

Meredith Andrews, contemporary portrait, travel and lifestyle photographer based on the sub-tropical island of Bermuda finds much of her inspiration combing the region’s beaches for plastic pollution, which she artfully arranges and photographs. Learn more.

Jo Atherton is an artist who works with objects, including plastic pollution, gathered on the UK coastline. Her practice highlights the diversity of plastic washed ashore and how the ubiquity of this material characterizes our current geological age of human influence—the Anthropocene. Learn more.

Pamela Longobardi, an American artist and activist fascinated by the metamorphoses of the ocean in the age of plastic. Through her works, she launches warning messages to the viewer, thrown like (plastic) bottles into the sea. Learn more.

Susan Middleton is an artist, photographer, author, and educator specializing in the portraiture of rare and endangered animals, plants, sites, and cultures. Much of her inspiration comes from the oceans. Learn more.

Alexis Rockman is an artist known for his paintings that depict future seascapes and landscapes as they might exist with impacts of climate change, pollution, and other human-made problems. In particular, his Oceanus and Shipwrecks series illustrate the beauty of the oceans—and what could happen if we do not protect them. Learn more.

Judith Selby and Richard Lang are artists who have spent more than 25 years visiting 1000 yards of Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore to gather plastic debris washing out of the Pacific Ocean. By carefully collecting and “curating” the bits of plastic, Selby and Lang fashion it into works of art— art that matter-of-factly shows, with minimal artifice, the material as it is. Learn more.

5. Experience: The Blue Mind Challenge

The 11th Annual 100 Days of Blue Mind Challenge takes place May 26–Sept 2, 2024. Nominated for The Earthshot Prize in 2023, Blue Mind refers to a water-induced state of calm, unity, and inspired will to protect and restore nature. Researched and described by PPC Scientific Advisor Dr. Wallace J Nichols, this positive, holistic, values-based solution simultaneously addresses human well-being in a time of despair, and environmental protection in a time of destruction. The 100 Days of Blue Mind Challenge is simple: get near, in, on or under water daily. If you miss a day, don’t worry! Invite someone who needs it to join you from time to time. Share your stories in any way you like. If you’re on social media, use the #bluemind hashtag so fellow water-lovers can easily follow along. Here’s a list of 100+ ways to practice Blue Mind.

Take Action

We are all connected to the ocean, whether we live nearby or far away. It’s no secret that one of the biggest threats to our oceans is plastic pollution—which of course is not just an ocean issue, but a whole Earth issue. 

Please consider supporting our work to educate, connect, and advocate for a more just, regenerative world free of plastic pollution.

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May 26 , 8:00 am September 2 , 5:00 pm EDT

The 11th Annual 100 Days of Blue Mind Challenge takes place May 26–Sept 2, 2024. Nominated for The Earthshot Prize in 2023, Blue Mind is a water-induced state of calm, unity, and inspired will to protect and restore nature. Researched and described by PPC Scientific Advisor Dr. Wallace J Nichols, this positive, holistic, values-based solution simultaneously addresses human well-being in a time of despair, and environmental protection in a time of destruction. The 100 Days of Blue Mind Challenge is simple: get near, in, on or under water daily. If you miss a day, don’t worry! Invite someone who needs it to join you from time to time. Share your stories in any way you like. If you’re on social media use the #bluemind hashtag so fellow water-lovers can easily follow along. Here’s a list of 100+ ways to practice Blue Mind.

March 4 , 7:00 pm 8:00 pm EST

We had so many questions for Erica at our last session, we just had to invite her back for a Q&A! Erica Cirino is a photojournalist, scientist, and artist, and she will be discussing her book Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis for the Ashland Public Library and Massachusetts library system. This time, Erica will adapt her presentation to answer some of the questions that came up at our last event and have more time for Q&A on this very important topic!

As plastic pollution piles up, time to negotiate real solutions is running out, and meanwhile plastics’ impacts on the Earth and our health grows worse. Erica hopes to share important facts and immediate action we can take to help our communities and protect our health from plastics.

This is a free presentation on Erica’s findings and current work communicating science-backed facts and solutions to the plastic pollution, featuring original reporting, research, and images from the frontlines of the plastic crisis (including from the middle of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch).

RECORDING NOTE: This program will be recorded. All registrants will receive the recording via email within 48 hours of the program.

The program will also air on BoxfieldTV public access stations, and will be available as a Video On Demand.

September 28, 2023 , 1:00 pm 2:00 pm EDT

Plastic is everywhere. The air we breathe, the foods we eat, the homes we live in, and the bodies we occupy are filled with micro- and nanoplastics. As plastic continues breaking down into tinier pieces, it infiltrates every element of our world. How is this toxin affecting our bodies and the bodies of our children?

Two-thirds of all cancer cases are linked to preventable environmental causes. Medical advances continue to improve disease treatment, yet cancer still claims the lives of one in five men and one in six women in the US. Is the rise in cancer related to a rise in plastic pollution? We can’t buy our ways out of the omnipresence of plastic pollution. It’s time for a different approach. One where we venture beyond personal responsibility and into the sphere of corporate accountability and political will.

Join Island Press for a conversation with Kristina Marusic, author of A New War on Cancer: The Unlikely Heroes Revolutionizing Prevention, and Matt Simon, author of A Poison Like No Other: How Microplastics Corrupted Our Planet and Our Bodies. Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics, Bennington College professor and former EPA regional administrator, will moderate and add her powerful perspective.

July 20, 2023 , 12:00 pm 1:00 pm EDT

It’s falling from the sky and in the air we breathe. It’s in our food, our clothes, and our homes. It’s microplastic and it’s everywhere — including our own bodies. Scientists are just beginning to discover how these tiny particles threaten health, but the studies are alarming.

Matt Simon, a nine-year veteran science journalist at Wired magazine, reveals a whole new dimension to the plastic crisis in his book, “A Poison Like No Other.” Join him in a webinar on Thursday, July 20 at 12:00 PM ET as he dives deep into our plastic pollution crisis. The conversation will be moderated by Shilpi Chhotray, co-founder and executive director at People Over Plastic. Simon weaves humor with humility together as he discusses this difficult topic. You’ll emerge from the webinar ready to fight for a plastic-free future.

Get 25% off the book with code REALITY from https://islandpress.org/books/poison-no-other

The following is a Q&A with author Matt Simon following the release of his new book, A Poison Like No Other: How Microplastics Corrupted Our Planet and Our Bodies.

Matt Simon Author Microplastics

Matt Simon has been a science journalist at Wired magazine for nine years. He covers a range of beats, including biology, robotics, climate change, and of course, microplastic pollution. He is the creator of Wired’s Absurd Creature of the Week column, which ran from September 2013 to March 2016. This later turned into the weekly web video series Absurd Creatures, which was then adapted into the hit Netflix series Absurd Planet, which premiered in April 2020. Matt is the author of two previous books. The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar: Evolution’s Most Unbelievable Solutions to Life’s Biggest Problems, which cataloged the strangest creatures on Earth and won an Alex Award in 2017. This inspired his second book, Plight of the Living Dead: What Real-Life Zombies Reveal About Our World—and Ourselves, which dove deep into the science of how parasites mind-control their hosts, published in 2018.

1. Your first two books are very specific—bugs that turn their hosts into zombies. There’s a theme running here that broadens with this third publication, since microplastics are invading the bodies of not just bugs but every living thing on the planet. What got you interested in the topic and at what point did you decide microplastics would be the focus of your next book?

I’ve been writing about microplastics for Wired for a number of years. I was sitting around during the pandemic lockdown thinking: Hey, you know what could make me feel even worse about the state of the world? Writing a book about microplastics, for sure.

My first two books were about the biological wonders of the world, which are now under serious threat from microplastics. It’s harrowing to think that these petrochemical particles are so pervasive, that the whole animal and plant kingdoms are exposed in some way. That’s the urgency here, that the natural world is already threatened with climate change and deforestation and other ills—there’s no telling what kind of additional stress microplastics are putting on millions of organisms.

2. How aware of the global plastic pollution crisis were you prior to researching this book?

I think like most people I’d always thought of plastic pollution as the big stuff, aka macroplastics—the bottles and bags floating in oceans and rivers and blowing across the landscape. It’s important to emphasize that the macroplastic crisis is the microplastic crisis. Every one of those bottles and bags will break down into ever tinier pieces that can squeeze into ever tinier nooks and crannies in the environment. And that’s not to mention the astounding amount of microplastic that’s directly entering the environment, for instance from our clothes and car tires. 

3. Your writing often contains a lot of levity—particularly in your WIRED articles, even when dealing with very serious topics. Can your readers expect your latest title to also communicate the very serious problem of microplastics with a healthy dash of humor?

I did my best to make the tone as engaging as possible while acknowledging the seriousness of this threat. The book certainly isn’t as jaunty as my previous two, but probably leans heavier into the snark, mostly directed at the plastics industry that poisoned the whole planet. That said, I try here to distill sometimes very dense scientific research into something that’s understandable for people who also haven’t read a thousand papers on microplastics while locked inside during the pandemic. To fix this problem, we all have to understand it together.

4. Microplastics have been analogized as “a Midas touch”—given how the conveniences they were advertised to provide have now backfired and turned into, as you’ve worded it, a “poison” that is affecting everything on the planet. In your opinion, what is the antidote to this poison and what can be done to stop the production and spread of microplastics?

It’s exceedingly daunting when you look at the many sources of microplastics—laundry water, car tire particles washing off roads, polymer-based paints chipping off buildings and bridges. But I’m a big proponent of the idea that even individual actions can add up into something much bigger. Yes, we should all install aftermarket microfiber filters on our washing machines, but we should pressure manufacturers to do it too. What I really don’t want people to take away from the book is that they’re responsible for this crisis. The plastics industry poisoned the planet. 

5. What surprised you most about microplastics when you began researching this book?

That the home is probably the most microplastic-polluted place you can be. Everything around us—couches, carpets, clothing, food packaging, even vinyl flooring—is shedding particles. One estimate figures that we could be inhaling up to 7,000 microplastics a day. This is all the more disturbing when you consider that toddlers are scrambling around on the floor, where microplastics gather as dust. The scary bit is that we know almost nothing about what that might mean for human health, but the early research is concerning. We know for certain that there are plenty of chemicals in plastic that are proven toxic to humans.

6. Lastly, what gives you hope for the future? Do you see a way out of this problem?

I actually see a tide turning here. More and more evidence is piling up that microplastic is terrible for organisms, even in concentrations already out there. That’s the urgency, that as plastic production keeps increasing exponentially over the coming decades, so too will the amount of microplastic in the environment. So an animal that may not be suffering today from plastic poisoning, may well in the near future.

At the same time, I think people are growing ever more aware of the ubiquitous absurdity of single-use plastic. It wasn’t that long ago that we humans got along perfectly fine without wrapping cucumbers in plastic—they have their own skins, for Pete’s sake. At the same time, people are growing more aware that microplastics have corrupted every corner of this planet. There’s no way to remove what’s already out there, but by massively curtailing the manufacture of plastic—and by doing the smaller stuff like putting microfiber filters on washing machines—we can begin to mitigate the unfettered flow of plastics into the environment. And to do that, we’ve got to get angry at the corporations responsible, not feel bad about our individual contributions. Don’t throw out your yoga pants and stretchy socks, is what I’m saying.

SPECIAL OFFER

A Poison Like No Other: How Microplastics Corrupted Our Planet and Our Bodies. available from Island Press. Visit www.islandpress.org and use code PPC for 30% on this book and these other titles:

You can also sign up for the October 27 webinar featuring Matt Simon, along with Dr. Deonie Allen, Marie Currie Global Research Fellow, University of Birmingham (UK) and the University of Canterbury (NZ), & Co-Founder, Plastic Pollution News; Dr. Steve Allen, Research Fellow, The Ocean Frontier Institute & Co-Founder, Plastic Pollution News in a conversation moderated by Asher Jay, Founder & CEO of Henoscene.

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