Plastic pollution has emerged as an important aspect of today’s environmental issues. It is now a crucial element of the threats our oceans and marine biodiversity facing. I am sure you have heard of the young whale recently washed up in the Philippines, with a staggering 40 kg of plastic in its stomach. According to a report by the United Nations, 8 million metric tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans annually. It also says, that 500 times more plastic particles are found in the oceans, than stars in our entire galaxy. Shocking!
Why do we use it?
There are properties of plastics that makes it attractive for industries. First of all, a very good reason for its widespread use is its flexibility, and incredible resilience to organic materials and water. The more polymer chains it contains, the more dense it is, therefore it can be used as piping in the water- and gas industry. In addition, it has an impressive strength, but it is still easy to shape and colour if needed.
When I say plastic, you must think of those PET bottles everyone heard of. You might think it further, and picture your shower gel, washing up liquid, or bin bags. However, one cannot simply quantify the number of items that can be produced from some sort of plastic. It is literally everywhere! In your car, in products you buy, in your house, even in the food you eat.
A profound problem with plastic is that very small percentage of it actually floats on the ocean surface. The vast majority sinks to the bottom of the ocean. We are not just talking those PET bottles here, but tiny tiny particles. It contaminates everything that lives in the ocean, including animals, and those plants that provides vital oxygen for you and me.
Make a difference
There is a steady rise in terms of talking about plastic pollution. What we really need is a radical shift in attention. No organisations, foundations or governments can ease this disease so long as the population doesn’t stand behind it.
We live in a world, where things are given to us on a silver platter. We don’t think, we don’t act. Although I cannot blame anyone. We forget that if our generation looks away, there won’t be anything left for our children.
I’ve recently had the luck to work with a brilliant team of scientists, and conservationists. A very great team gathered for the Hamworthy beach and Ham Common clean. We also did a survey for the Marine Conservation Society by digging up a 100 metres long, and 25 metres wide beach area and collected data on various types of litter we found there. It is always heart warming to work with enthusiastic and passionate people who work tirelessly to protect our environment.
The results just came back, and I am genuinely shocked. When we arrived at the beach, I’ve looked around, and I thought we will hardly find anything. It looked so clean. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
A hundred metres beach, 48 kg of plastic
Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it is not there.
It’s not just our marine biodiversity and oceans that face this threat. It is us, collectively. Almost 250 pieces of plastic pellets, over 500 metal pieces, fishing nets and shopping bags, crisp packets and rubbers, and countless more.
Take action, and get together with your family and friends and participate. Stand up for the environment, and stand up for our future! If you don’t know where to start, join a beach clean with the Marine Conservation Society, and be with us through the Great British Beach Clean!