To combat the rising need for plastic pollution awareness, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching an updated version of its education program to reach all corners of the world.
Ocean Legacy Foundation is a Canadian non-profit organization that designs and initiates plastic pollution emergency response programs globally. One of the programs it recently developed is a free online education platform called EPIC Academy.
In 2021, the pilot launch of EPIC Academy was released and grew its enrollment organically, offering individuals, businesses, organizations and schools a means of learning about the status of the plastic pollution crisis, clean-up efforts, and solutions for creating a world with no plastic waste in the ocean or on land. Now the program has a dedicated education coordinator devoted to the strategic expansion of enrollment on a global scale.
"I would say we're probably at code red status already, unfortunately, which is the exact reason that we've actually come forward with the curriculum," says Kathryn Anderson, the new Ocean Legacy education coordinator. "What's evident is that the problem is growing substantially right now, to the point that by 2050 we're concerned that we're going to see more plastic in the ocean than fish. If each of us knows the solution and we're well informed and educated, then the likelihood is that we're really going to make good headway on this problem in reasonably short order, provided that we have the right information and we work in coordination with one another."
Due to plastics going missing after use, it ends up in the ocean, and in animals, and Anderson says there are traces of microplastics in the food available in supermarkets.
According to Ocean Legacy, a study was conducted and it found that 100 per cent of marine turtles sampled were found to contain plastic, 59 per cent of whales, 36 per cent of seals, and 40 per cent of sea birds. Many birds do not live until adult life due to the ingestion of plastic, which leaves no room for nutritional food, which causes them to perish.
Since the pilot launch of EPIC Academy was considered successful, Anderson was hired in late August to take over the duties of supervising the program.
"I've just been delighted to be connected to a very hard-working team of people who really care about the work that we're doing, and my natural enthusiasm for the content really comes to the forefront because I believe in the work and the people who do it and the reason why we're doing it."
Now that the pilot launch of EPIC Academy has been tested and considered a success, Ocean Legacy Foundation has updated to become a fully developed program. Some updates to the education program include an improved curriculum and an awareness of the demographic that is being reached.
"When you sign up, you're going to be asked 'are you a student or are you a teacher,' and you don't have to be attached to an academic institution to be considered a student. If you're just an interested human who has environmental leaning then you can sign up. Tell us if you're a teacher or a student or both, and let us know where you're from in the world so that we can have a global map of ocean stewards who are helping us to see how well we're helping educate people across the globe."
Courses are available in three languages as of right now, English, French and Spanish. Anderson says that more languages will be added soon.
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Solutions to plastic pollution consist of some material in the curriculum, however, Anderson says that to know the solution people need to know some basics of plastic pollution. This includes issues of understanding why the ocean is full of plastic, how plastic becomes misplaced, what happens when the plastic enters the ocean, what plastic is made of and what the process is for recycling plastics.
EPIC stands for the four-pillar strategy plan that Ocean Legacy stands by. E stands for education and research; P stands for policy and advocacy; I stands for infrastructure development, and C stands for clean up and restoration.
It is through this strategic plan that Ocean Legacy Foundation has created a patented process for reducing plastic waste, it involves removing plastic from the ocean, cleaning and processing it to reduce it to its basic form (a pellet or nurdle) that can be used for re-manufacture.
The British Columbia-based organization recently launched a mission called The Missing Millions Report, it was an in-depth research analysis of how many plastic items go missing, the answer is millions...daily.
For those wishing to sign up for EPIC Academy for free, visit edu.oceanlegacy.ca.
For more information about Ocean's Legacy Foundation, visit oceanlegacy.ca.
Donations are accepted by not required.