Vancouver Aquarium is launching a new initiative to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the oceans.
The aquarium says the amount of plastic humans are producing is growing at an exponential rate and posing a grave threat to the fish and other wildlife that increasingly mistake it for food. About eight million metric tons of plastic ends up in the oceans every year, with up to 80 per cent of it coming from land-based sources, such as landfills.
Vulnerable sea life, including whales, sea turtles and sea birds, easily mistake plastic items for food and ingest them. The plastic can result in blockages in the animals’ digestive systems and can result in injury and death.
To raise awareness about the issue, the aquarium says it will be eradicating single-use plastic water bottles to reduce its plastic footprint.
Visitors are being encouraged to bring their own re-usable bottles to the aquarium’s premises.
The aquarium is also putting up a new, temporary installation to raise awareness about this initiative.
A big wave made of water bottles along the glass wall of the Ocean Wise Art Atrium represents the approximate number that were sold in the aquarium’s cafe just from September to November of last year. In all of 2016, the aquarium says it sold 37,000 single-use plastic water bottles on its premises.
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But it’s now doing away with the bottles in addition to other plastic items that have already been banned, including plastic straws, cup lids and cutlery.
“Humans are producing tremendous amounts of plastic at a time when the problem has never been more pressing,” said President and CEO Dr. John Nightingale in a release. “Currently, there is enough plastic in the ocean to cover every metre of world’s coastlines.”
The organization is the first zoo or aquarium in Canada to discontinue its sales of single-use plastic water bottles, but it follows another major B.C. landmark in going plastic free for its visitors.
Victoria’s famous Butchart Gardens announced last month the ban on the sale of all single-use plastic water bottles on the botanical gardens’ premises.
Like the Vancouver Aquarium, Butchart Gardens is encouraging visitors to bring their own water bottles to fill at one of the four water stations inside.