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In fully-furnished homes, you’ll usually find television sets, tables, chairs, coffee tables, desk lamps, sofa sets, refrigerators, rugs, plus curtains. These same items – even the proverbial kitchen sink – have all been retrieved from the sea. Because of improper waste disposal, untold amounts of garbage end up in our oceans to harm marine life.

SAM_3786In celebration of International Coastal Cleanup Day 2014, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) and the Network of Underwater Digital Imagers (NUDI), together with Canon Marketing Philippines, Inc. plus Ayala Malls, have teamed up to raise awareness about the immense wealth of our seas and the dangers posed by unchecked marine pollution.

Entitled Beauty Beneath the Blue, the photo exhibit runs from 18 to 24 September at the EDSA Cupola of Glorietta 1 in Makati City.

International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day, spearheaded by the Ocean Conservancy in 1985, is the world’s largest voluntary movement for our seas. In last year’s ICC activities, nearly 650,000 volunteers from 92 countries collected over 12.3 million pounds of trash.

SAM_3728“The health of our seas hangs in the balance not just because of unsustainable fishing practices or climate change impacts like rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification. Marine pollution also poses threats that we can minimize by managing our waste properly. From plastic bags to fertilizer run-off, most of the waste we produce on land eventually reaches the oceans, either from deliberate marine dumping or from inland sources like canals and rivers,” says WWF-Philippines Vice-president for Conservation Programmes Joel Palma.

SAM_3770“Photography is a powerful tool to tell stories which can compel people to change their way of living before it is too late,” explains NUDI photographer and co-founder Boogs Rosales. “Though it is important to showcase the beauty of the marine environment to remind people why it is worth preserving, we also have a responsibility – to show people how much damage we are causing by not acknowledging the impacts of our dependence on plastic and other forms of waste, which end up in our oceans.”

SAM_3765WWF-Philippines and NUDI invite the public to visit the photo exhibit, while following these ten simple steps for trash-free seas.

1. Watch what you throw.

Over 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. Most waste thrown inland eventually make their way out to sea.

2. Minimize use of plastic bags.

Plastic bags do not biodegrade. Instead, they photo-degrade and break down into smaller and more toxic particles to contaminate both water and soil. The danger is real and alarming: in a planet where everything is connected, these chemicals enter the food system to eventually poison humans. Curbing our over-reliance on plastic bags minimizes this threat.

SAM_37903. Bring your own water tumbler instead of relying on bottled water for hydration.

High concentrations of plastic bottles may block the breathing passages and stomachs of many large marine species like sharks and whales.

4. Dispose of cigarette butts properly.

Did you know that cigarette butts are the top items collected at International Coastal Cleanup drives globally? They are followed by food wrappers and plastic water bottles. Last year, more than two million cigarette butts, 1.6 million food wrappers, plus about a million plastic water bottles were gathered. These numbers do not yet account for the millions of tonnes of uncollected garbage.

SAM_37815. Reuse disposable food containers.

Taking out leftover food from the restaurant? It is likely that you will bring home your food with a disposable plastic container, which you can use to store other food and household items.

6. Pay attention to what you dispose of.

Interesting items collected at International Coastal Cleanup Drives include enough items to furnish an apartment: kitchen sinks, refrigerators, air conditioning units, rugs, tables and chairs, curtains, desks, mattresses, pillows and pillow cases, toilet bowls, among many others.

SAM_37587. Be creative!

Take part in upcycling activities that reinvent or redecorate once-useless products into new, useful materials.

8. Support products that have less packaging.

Buy in bulk. Buying lots of smaller packs generates more waste. Bulk purchasing saves money, too.

Opt for brands that have less packaging.

9. Influence change in your community.

Learn about the waste management policies of your local public officials before voting them. You can also write your Mayor or local representative to ask for tougher action against garbage, which end up polluting our seas or accumulating in landfills.

10. Take action!

Even if it’s not International Coastal Cleanup Day, make sure to pick up marine debris whenever you chance upon trash at the beach.

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