We have a plastic problem Or let’s start with 1 thing #startwith1thing

24 Jan

By 2050, the volume of plastic in our oceans will have surpassed the volume of fish…(USA TODAY Article)


I’ll say that again: In 35 years time, there will be more plastic (that is definitely not supposed to be there) in our oceans than there will be fish (who definitely are supposed to be there).

If you ever encounter anyone who says humans haven’t really had too detrimental an impact on this planet, write them this fact down on a piece of paper, wrap it lovingly around a housebrick and beat them around the head with it until they fully appreciate the error of their ways.

It gets better, this estimate comes with the staggering qualification that it is based on humans not increasing the amount of plastic pumped into the oceans yearly. Already, there is a concentrated patch of plastic waste in the Pacific that covers at least (at least!) 700 000 square kilometres (Km) and that many researchers claim covers a space closer to 15 000 000 square Km. In short, we have a plastic problem in our oceans.

It’s quite easy to glaze over when big issues like the environment are discussed. More times than I could count, I’ve heard the reasoning: ‘what can I do? If big corporations and governments won’t curb their polluting, what impact can I have?’

While I have a little sympathy for this thinking and while it’s certainly a fact that big industry, corporations and governments need to act (and act quickly) to address the dire issues facing our environment, there remain things that we can do as individuals to help.

The recent documentary, Racing Extinction, showcased how by ‘starting with 1 thing’ individuals can make a huge difference to our environments. Check out the site here: Racing Extinction

One of the big plastic problems in our oceans comes from plastic microbeads, the tiny globes found in a range of products from tooth pastes, to detergents and face washes. Very few sewage plants were designed to filter these beads from waste water meaning about 95% will eventually reach our oceans. Once in the oceans, these microbeads are eaten by unsuspecting fish and, ultimately, end up entering our food chain. Although we already know this plastic is having a huge impact on marine life we can only guess at what effect it might have on us with increased exposure through the fish we eat.

Many countries (and some States in the US) have already moved to ban all products containing plastic microbeads and it is thankfully likely that a worldwide ban will be forthcoming over the next 5 years as many more wake up to the damage they cause. Until this ban comes in, why not start with 1 thing today and go through your products to see if you have any thst contain plastic microbeads and throw them out. In future, you could try and avoid products that contain them as there will always be alternatives.

Find out more about plastic in our oceans: The Story of Stuff – Ban the beads

I’ve also written this related post on: Why balloon releases are dumb

And this one: On why you should boycott captive Dolphin swims

Part of the reason the oceans matter to me are incredible experiences like this: On swimming with Manta Rays in the Maldives

It’s better to light a single candle than to stand and curse the darkness.


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