This World Oceans Day, It’s All About Plastic

Thalassophile, n. thuh-LASS-uh-file
A lover of the sea, someone who loves the sea/ocean

Every year on June 8th, we celebrate World Oceans Day. This is an opportunity to celebrate oceans around the world, and in particular, the marine and coastal wildlife that depend on them for survival. In addition to hosting millions of species of marine wildlife, oceans also provide essential services to humans, like supporting phytoplankton that provide much of the oxygen we breathe; absorbing a majority of the excess heat trapped by the greenhouse effect; and providing a major source of food.

Sadly, our oceans are in trouble. Millions of tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year, harming coastal and marine wildlife, and even getting into the food we eat. Warming temperatures and sea level rise from climate change, as well as ocean acidification caused by the release of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, threaten coral reefs and treasured species like sea turtles and whales.

This World Oceans Day, take the opportunity to celebrate our oceans by learning about how human-caused pollution impacts our oceans, and what you can do to help!

Learn by Reading and Writing

Timmy the Turtle’s Tummy Trouble is a book written and illustrated by students to help educate other students about how human-created pollution harms turtles and other marine animals.

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Pallavi Shastri and her 5th grade green team ambassadors at Green Flag Eco-School PS 69 in Queens have been concerned about the scourge of plastics in the oceans for several years. As part of their advocacy they have banned plastic balloons at school parties, started outdoor composting, and slashed many items on the school supply list to further avoid waste, conduct energy audits as well as waste check for the correct bins regularly as well as many other green initiatives.  A group of 5th graders wrote  Timmy the Turtle’s Tummy Trouble, which was published by Studentreasures in April 2019. The book was also recently selected as a semi-finalist in the National Book Challenge hosted by Studentreasures for noteworthy story line, front cover appeal, interesting illustrations, following correct publishing guidelines, and topic.

Learn more and join Eco-Schools USA:

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Learn by Reading and Watching

All the Way to the Ocean, written by Joel Harper, is an uplifting story about two best friends, Isaac and James, and their discovery of the cause and effect relationship between our cities’ storm drains and the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers. In the story, James throws a wrapper and plastic bottle in the gutter and doesn’t believe that it will go all the way to the ocean. His friend Isaac warns James about the consequences of his littering. James and Isaac embark on an educational adventure as they learn about the harmful effects of storm drain pollution, and in turn, spread the word to their friends and the rest of their school. Helping the kids along this journey are a concerned crane from the coast line, a surprisingly insightful surfer dude, and James’s mom. 

Joel Harper’s World Oceans Day message:

We hope that the takeaway from the book and film will be for children and families to take part in a growing movement to work toward REFUSING single use plastics, actively keep trash out of storm drains and become more engaged, conscious consumers.

He shares his mantra that every decision we make has the power to change the world for the better!

Learn more about the Eco-Schools USA Watersheds, Oceans, and Wetlands pathway:

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Support Plastic Upcycling Programs

Shore Buddies are stuffed animals made from recycled, ocean-bound plastic bottles. The 12” stuffed animals are made from 6 plastic bottles each and all their animals are ocean themed to raise awareness about ocean plastic pollution among children from an early age on.

Conservation begins with education. The 5 Shore Buddies, Emma the Whale, Finn the Dolphin, Sammy the Seal, Shelly the Sea Turtle and Stephen Seagull are giving marine life a voice. Little stories as well as their very own children’s book Shore Buddies and the Plastic Ocean tells about the danger of plastic for marine life and also gives little tips how everyone can reduce their plastic footprint on a daily basis. One dollar from every product purchase goes back to fund educational outreach where Shore Buddies are brought to Kindergartens and schools to talk about reduce, reuse and recycling.

Shore Buddies Founder Malte Niebelschuetz’s World Ocean’s Day message:

Through Shore Buddies, our goal is to empower the next generation to become more eco-conscious and ocean-minded, in order to live in harmony with nature and wildlife.

Learn more about the Eco-Schools USA Consumption and Waste Pathway:

Learn more!

What can I do?

This World Oceans Day, take action to protect wildlife and conserve habitat.

  1. Join Eco-Schools USA and address the WOW-Oceans pathway.
  2. As class or as a family, read and watch All the Way to the Ocean.
  3. Download free resources from Shore Buddies and gift Sammy, Stephen, Shelly or Finn to children close to your heart.
  4. Use the plastic calculator to identify areas for improvement and develop a plan to become a better ocean steward.
  5. Participate in a clean-up event. The World Oceans Day website has an interactive tool to find events near you. If you don’t see your location listed, go to Google and type, “Clean-up events this weekend.”

Like what you read? Please consider making a donation to support Eco-Schools USA and our other critical conservation programs: