Just outside the Vancouver Convention Centre, where global business and government leaders are gathering today to talk the clean economy at GLOBE Sustainability Forum, Ocean Wise’s Dr. Peter Ross sampled the harbour waters for microplastics. Vice-president of research at Ocean Wise, and leading microplastic pollution expert, Ross said his team found 1,258 tiny particles of plastic in a cubic meter of seawater sampled a few days before the conference.
“We have found microplastic particles in every sample of seawater we’ve analyzed from around the world, and Vancouver, despite being one of the world’s greenest cities, is no exception. This microscopic plastic pollution is coming from many sources, including plastic from single use items that have broken down over time in the ocean,” said Ross.
Which is why Ocean Wise is kicking off its #BePlasticWise pledge campaign at GLOBE today, said Dr. John Nightingale, Ocean Wise president and CEO. The campaign aims to raise awareness about ocean plastic and build collective action by asking people to reduce their plastic waste from single-use items and other sources.
“The threat of plastic waste in our ocean is a real challenge to both aquatic life and marine ecosystems,” said Nightingale. “Plastic contamination is found from pole to pole, so the high levels of microplastics we’re finding in an ocean city as green as Vancouver raise the question: what does this mean for other parts of the world that are not as pristine?”
Nightingale said Ocean Wise is asking for pledges from government, industry and the public to tackle ocean plastic. “Ocean Wise has been leading ocean plastic research since 2013, but this issue needs all of us to take small steps towards big solutions for our ocean. Action comes with interest and awareness, and we encourage everyone to take the pledge, share your involvement and protect our ocean.”
Ocean Wise’s #BePlasticWise pledge is generously supported by Canadian retailer MEC and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, which have both signed the pledge.
Founding pledge signatories include: Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada; Hon. Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport Canada; Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard; Hon. George Heyman, BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy; Douglas Coupland, artist; Ratana Stephens, co-founder, Nature’s Path Foods Inc; Ty Speer, president & CEO, Tourism Vancouver; Guy Dean, CSO, Albion Farms and Fisheries; Ned Bell, Ocean Wise executive chef; Ken Flores, general manager, Fairmont Waterfront Hotel; Lili Clark, senior producer, BRANDLIVE, and David Katz, CEO, Plastic Bank, among others.
Studies show that one million water bottles are sold every minute around the world and 500 billion plastic bags are used globally every year. Plastic waste is finding its way to the ocean at a rate of one dump truck full every minute. A recent study predicts plastic consumption will double in the next 20 years. Every small step people take to reduce single use plastic and their ocean impact is a big step forward.
#BePlasticWise pledge participants will receive monthly lifestyle challenges to help them reduce single use plastic over the course of a year. Starting with “Coffee Break” in March — to reduce use of takeout plastic-lined cups and lids — Ocean Wise will provide tips, ocean stories and videos for living a more ocean-friendly life.