Plastic bottle in water

How to reduce ocean plastic pollution in 2024

3 minute read

Ocean plastic pollution is a major concern for the planet and its wildlife. Make this year, the year you help reduce plastic pollution on our UK shores.

Why we need to clean up the ocean from plastic pollution

Because of its versatility and our dependence on it, plastic pollution is at an all-time high. We see the effects of this most clearly in our ocean. The plastic we use and see in our everyday lives ends up in the sea through wind, water streams and our sewage systems. In fact, it is said that 80% of plastic in the ocean originated on land. Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t end there; a lot of plastic also ends up polluting beaches, shorelines and estuaries.

Not only do beaches and coasts look dirty, reducing tourism to our island nation, but it has a long-lasting effect on our planet too. The plastic that ends up at the coast and in the sea causes major health concerns on local wildlife which can, in turn, cause huge concerns for our future too.

What is the best way to reduce plastic pollution?

There has been some debate whether we can ever truly clean the ocean of all plastic since so much of it sinks and becomes part of the seabed. Removing this plastic would have drastic effects on wildlife, which rely on the seabed as a habitat for shelter and food.

The best solution to reducing plastic pollution is to focus on the areas we can have the greatest impact on; our rivers and coastlines. Not only is this sort of action accessible, it also allows us all to tackle the area where the majority of plastic pollution originally comes from.

By doing our part, no matter where you are located in the United Kingdom, we can reduce ocean plastic build up by restricting how much ends at our coasts and shoreline.

What ways can I help reduce plastic pollution?

1) Recycle effectively

Recycling may seem second nature to most of us, but the truth is that most UK householders are uncertain of what can and can’t be recycled when it comes to plastics.

Without a unified recycling system across the UK, councils have different rules around what can and cannot be recycled. There are some plastics that can never be recycled which, when placed with recyclable plastics, can contaminate the process and simply move the plastic pollution issue to a new location.

Widely recycled recycling logo

The best way to help reduce plastic pollution through recycling is to understand what your area allows to recycle and actively follow recycling symbols on plastic.

Find out what the most widely used recycling symbols mean

2) Reduce single-use plastic usage

A lot of work has been done to reduce single-use plastics through UK Government policies and bans, but there is more that we can do on an individual level.

The simplest way to reduce single-use plastic is by opting for reusable products such as water bottles and carrier bags, reducing your individual plastic pollution footprint on a daily basis and ultimately making an impact on the amount of pollution reaching our coasts.

Find out more ways to reduce your plastic footprint

3) Be aware of products that include microplastics

Not only are microplastics a cause for real concern for our local marine life but they are perhaps the most harmful form of ocean pollution for us too.

Fish of all sizes ingest microplastics found in the ocean, which we can end up consuming when we choose to have fish for dinner.

Most microplastic pollution is caused as a by-product of larger plastics breaking down, which requires regulations to be put in place to reduce. On a personal level, we can actively avoid using products which intentionally add microplastics such as glitter and wet wipes, which exacerbate the issue further.

Discover our campaign to ban plastics in wet wipes

4) Volunteer to reduce plastic pollution

Despite our best efforts, it is likely that plastic will still make its way to our coasts. That's why beach and river cleanups are so important. At the Marine Conservation Society, we host a UK-wide clean up in September: Great British Beach Clean. Every year we combine litter picking with data collection to get a better idea about the plastic pollution crisis in the UK.

There's is no need to wait for our week-long event to volunteer as there are always local cleans happening around the UK,

Find a beach clean near you

5) Sign petitions and join campaigns that reduce ocean pollution

Environmental change within law often occurs as a result of public pressure. Your endorsement on petitions has a big impact on political change. In 2023, our campaign for Sewage-Free Seas successfully convinced the UK Government to include all coastal waters and estuaries in the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan. With your support, we can make environmental change happen.

Discover our recent campaigns

6) Support charities that are challenging plastic pollution

Changing political legislation and funding projects that combat ocean pollution can sometimes be a laborious task in of itself. That is why environmental charities that focus on creating healthier seas, such as the Marine Conservation Society, appreciate the support of their members and one-time donors.

For every £1 that is donated each month, we spend 79p on protecting and restoring our ocean. This means that we can continue to do valuable work in creating a cleaner, better protected, healthier ocean; one we can all enjoy.

Make a donation to support our work today

Join our community of members

Help us protect and restore our ocean