Written by Megan Denny
National Geographic estimates 5.25 trillion pieces of trash end up in the ocean every year. That’s about 700 pieces of trash for every man, woman and child on the planet. And, a lot of that rubbish is plastic. The volume and types of trash in the ocean affects all marine creatures, from the smallest zooplankton to the largest whales.
As a dive professional, you’re uniquely qualified to help turn the tide toward a healthier ocean. There are many ways to make a difference including participating in year-round Project AWARE® Dive Against Debris® surveys or organizing a special event on Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day. Here are a few suggestions and examples of what other PADI® Pros are doing for International Coastal Cleanup Day this September.
Saturday, 16 September
International Coastal Cleanup Day is an ideal way to do important work for the local community and raise awareness about your business. Here are some tips for running a successful cleanup event:
- Get the word out – Send a short press release to local news organisations (templates and tools are available on the PADI Pros’ Site).
- Stock up – Encourage divers to get equipped with mesh collection bags, knives and gloves. Invite topside participants to bring gardening gloves, but bring extra gloves for those who forget.
- Buddy up – Invite local environmental organizations to participate and help get the word out.
- Create incentives – Jack’s Diving Locker in Hawai’i offers a free rental tank and half off rental gear to divers participating in their shoreline and underwater cleanup. Their 2017 event takes place on International Coastal Cleanup Day at the Kailua-Kona Pier from 9am – noon.
- Document your activities: create a recap video or slideshow to share on social media and with local news outlets.
Take Action Year Round
You don’t need to wait for International Coastal Cleanup Day to take action. Through Dive Against Debris surveys, divers can remove debris throughout the year at any dive location across the globe. If you dive at the same site frequently, why not adopt it? Project AWARE provides a suite of survey tools and a yearly report on the state of your local dive site. Simply conduct Dive Against Debris surveys once a month and report the marine debris you find. Receive special recognition for your efforts in addition to the feel-good benefits of helping the planet and local community. Learn more at: projectaware.org/adoptadivesite.
Make Good Choices
While out of the water there are things you can do to support a clean and healthy ocean.
Say “no” to single-use plastics – Especially items like cups, straws and cutlery. Choose reusable snack bags over plastic ones, and switch to biodegradable trash bags. Plastic production has skyrocketed from 7 million tons in 1950 to almost 300 million tons today. What’s even scarier: most of that plastic is still around. By reducing plastic consumption we can reduce the plastic pollution in our ocean. Here’s a humorous video you can share online to encourage friends to avoid disposable plastics.
Donate to Project AWARE – Challenge friends, family and your student divers to do the same by creating a fundraising campaign. Get started at org/support. You can also peruse fundraising campaigns from fellow ocean-lovers at Finathon.org.