THE PLASTIC CHALLENGE – CUT THE PLASTIC WHICH CHOKES THE OCEANS
Like so many global and environmental problems, the accumulation of plastic in the oceans is something we are not conscious of. Yet that plastic cup we unwittingly throw into the rubbish so easily could end up in the sea, either as it is or in the form of tiny micro-plastics, and once there, might directly lead to the death of ocean creatures.
Plastic might as well be immortal. It doesn’t degrade.
Global plastic production is estimated to be 300 m tonnes annually and 8 m tonnes of that plastic reach the oceans each year. UNEP has estimated there are close to 18,000 pieces of plastic litter per square kilometre in the oceans. Almost all the plastic clogging up the oceans has its origins in our reckless use of plastic on land and the thoughtless way in which we dispose of plastic. According to estimates there will be the same mass of plastic in the oceans as there are fish by 2050.
When exposed to UV radiation, chemical degradation and the movement of the waves, plastic breaks down into tiny pieces, referred to as micro-plastics. Plastic micro-beads are also contained in scrubbers, even toothpaste, and many beauty and personal care products.
It seems some fish, turtles, sea mammals and even aquatic microorganisms eat plastic in the way we eat fast food. To them, plastic appears like authentic food. Plastic micro-beads are consumed by sea animals unknowingly and then accumulate through the food chain. Many plastics are themselves toxic; most become toxic when exposed to sea water. The toxins enter the food chain and may even end up on our dinner table. Larger plastic debris entangles animals and birds – it is estimated that 100,000 turtles and birds die from entanglement each year.
Let’s join the campaign, for instance the Plastic Challenge which is backed by the Marine Conservation Society, to persuade people to reduce plastic use and wastage. Living completely plastic free in this day and age is nigh impossible. Maybe though it is possible to stop using single-use plastic for a day, a week or however long is manageable, and cut out those plastic containers which we throw in a bin just as soon as we consume the contents. Maybe it is possible to search out an alternative to the plastic we buy – degradable cups and pots and paper bags. Maybe we can ensure that the plastic we dispose of is recycled usefully. Maybe …. Maybe …..
Perhaps we can join Dutchman Boyan Slat, who as a 19 year old, designed an ocean cleaning array and after a feasibility study to topple his many critics, launched The Ocean Cleanup campaign. Read the full story: http://inhabitat.com/19-year-old-student-develops-ocean-cleanup-array-that-could-remove-7250000-tons-of-plastic-from-the-worlds-oceans/
MY FAMILY CAMPAIGN FOR JUNE 5, WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY, AND FOR THE YEAR AHEAD, IS TO JOIN THE PLASTIC CHALLENGE. YOU COULD DO THE SAME!