We all have them: Disturbing images of dead birds with their stomachs full of plastic, baby turtles chocking as they mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and seals being tangled in plastic nets discarded by fishing boats.
However, although we are all perfectly aware of the problems and the effects coming with it, we do not seem to care enough to actually change our habits and stop the mass production of plastic.
But why is that?
Do we think that we cannot make a change?
That it does not matter if one person reduces their plastic use?
Or is it just the assumption that ocean plastic won’t have any negative effects on us?
If you really think that ocean plastic is a problem that only impacts marine species, you are highly mistaken.
Polluting the ocean harms not only the creatures living in it but has an impact on all of us as plastic is entering every level of the food chain. So-called microplastics and microbeads, tiny plastic balls found in facial scrubs and toothpaste, are too small to be filtered out of the wastewater system and end up in the sea. These are consumed by plankton, which are consumed by fish and eventually consumed by us. Scientists found out that shellfish lovers eat about 11,000 plastic fragments each year!
Already more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are in the ocean right now, and every year 8 million tons of plastic are being added. Up to this point it would take us thousands of years and tens of billions of dollars to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch alone.
If we continue that way there could be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.
We need to challenge the perception of plastic being disposable. Microplastics are forever.
But where should we start? People tend to be overwhelmed by all those facts and numbers and feel like they do not have the power to change something. But we are all part of the problem, therefore we all have the responsibility to be part of the solution as well. Starting with the fact that one half of all plastic produced is designed for single use only, we should start to use reusable cups and cut down on plastic bags and plastic packaging where possible. Ocean plastic is a product produced by every single one of us!
Since you have started reading this blog 3 garbage trucks of plastic have been dumped into the ocean. Big changes start with small steps.
What are you going to do to reduce your plastic footprint today?