U OCEAN PROJECT: STRIVING TO BEST REDUCE MARINE POLLUTION
The U Ocean Project is a non-profit charity with an important mission to remove 1 billion kilos of marine pollution by 2030 from every canal, river, beach, and ocean.
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At the core of U OCEAN’S ethos is a community-based approach to conservation inviting volunteers to support the mission by sharing a small amount of their time in uniting humanity against ocean plastics.
U OCEAN has clean-ups in almost every city in the UK, as well as international chapters in their fight to achieve and sustain their mission. U OCEAN Leicester recently invited me to join them on their riverside and canal clean-up in Leicester in partnership with Leicester City Council. To say the least, this was an experience that left me wanting to join the team on a regular basis. It was also a real eye-opener to the issue of waste dumping we are dealing with not only in the city but nationally and on a global level.
Plastic in Our Ocean-Why, How and Where?
Plastic penetrates our waterways in many ways as rivers and canals run through most cities which are connected to the ocean. Plastic and waste left on the floor flows into the system when the elements such as wind, rain sweeps them into the waterways. Additionally fishing boats using loose nets, buoys and floats that cannot be recovered and therefore are seen floating around our oceans leading to the death of countless marine life.
We as humans are a huge detriment to the waterways, throwing away our waste everywhere that ends up onto the beach and ocean and more so in countries where a robust recycling and disposal system is not in place.
Global storm drains and overflow systems flush plastic into the ocean resulting in countless pieces of plastic ending up in the ocean as well as millions of plastic particles of manmade fibres from our clothing running through washing machines and driers and eventually ending up in the ocean. Find out more on my #sustainablesunday series on Instagram, and the release of microplastics in your washing https://www.instagram.com/p/CSThijesbj9/
“There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, Not one square mile of surface ocean anywhere on earth is free of plastic pollution.”National Geographic
Why Plastic is Dangerous in Our Oceans
The impact of plastic on marine life is probably the most apparent with seabirds, whales, fish and turtles ingesting plastics as they mistake the plastic for food with many of them dying as their stomachs are filled with plastic debris.
The common plastic (Low Density Polyethylene – LDPE) used to make grocery bags is known to release the most methane in terms of greenhouse gases, after being submerged in seawater and sunlight exposure. These bags are also pretty light and tend to float to the surface of the ocean.
The world’s coral reefs are also in a diare state with heavy plastic contamination with plastic attaching to the branching coral killing the living coral system.
‘In the UK, a recent sample of the river Mersey near Liverpool found that there was an average of 84,030 particles of micro-plastics in each square metre of water. People are likely to consume micro-plastics, as they have been detected in a wide range of food and drink products, including bottled and tap water, table salt, sugar, and seafood. ‘U Ocean
Take Action : Look at Everyday Sustainable Plastic .Alternatives
U OCEAN Project
In order to prevent as much waste as possible from entering the oceans, its imperative to tackle the waste in our canals, rivers and waterways before it is swept up to the wider ocean covering our planet. This is exactly the aim of the U OCEAN PROJECT. With chapters in almost every UK city as well as international chapters the team has an inspiring network of leaders and volunteers whose priorities are to educate and hold local clean-ups regularly with generous funding through local councils, brands, businesses, foundations and private donors.
U OCEAN started when founder Chris Desai left the fast fashion industry after a revelation and seeing the pollution it was causing in the world and went sailing for six months to reflect on his next chapter. He was deeply moved at the level of pollution on the beaches and at sea around the United Kingdom, whilst sailing and decided to create a sustainable fashion brand Vayyu and non-profit charity called The Vayyu Foundation, to clean the world’s oceans whilst leading a new generation into clean fashion
U OCEAN Leicester
The Leicester Chapter is now led by Chris, who is from Leicester originally, where his infectious passion has inspired many volunteers to join the movement and play a conscious part in this cause.
The clean-ups are set up by Chris on a regular basis at a number of locations on the River Soar running through Castle Park in the city as well as Watermead Abbey Park and other areas.
Each clean-up is around three hours long and you can fill out the volunteer form on the U OCEAN Website (a member of the team will let you know where you’re nearest clean-up location is) or contact the charity via their Instagram account. Anyone can take part and everything you need from life jacket buoys, U Ocean Clean up vests, to gloves, bin bags, pickers, rakes etc will be provided so you just need to bring yourself and maybe some hand sanitiser to wash hands. Oh and comfortable clothing, which you’re not too precious about!
The Leicester clean up at Castle Gardens involved split cleaning from the Tow Path and a river boat from Leicester Council with a swap over of the groups half-way through.
What Kinds of waste Are Collected?
Crisp packets, plastic bottles, general waste, soft toys, traffic cones, shopping trolleys, bicycles, cans and so much more.
The charity would be able to grow and provide more education and clean-up sessions if they could purchase vital clean-up equipment, volunteer training, river boats as well as charity costs such as insurance- so if you are able to donate then head over to their donations page or get in touch with U OCEAN to speak to a team member.
Please join the movement if you can and together we can help remove one billion kilos of marine pollution by 2030 and provide a future where our oceans preserve life and humanity.
What Happens to the Plastic After Collection?
Any plastic that is still viable will be recycled. Although some bits are non-recyclable such as crisp packets and the like so these are passed onto facilities who can dispose of them more sustainably. The plastic is also weighted prior to this to keep a track of the amount collected.