The problem with plastics is that they become micro plastics.

Microplastic and plastics in general that are in the ocean are a danger not only to sea life but to us as well. Thousands of earths creatures are affected or dying from the effects of these microplastics every day.

WHAT ARE MICROPLASTICS?
Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are usually too small to be seen by the naked eye. They can come from tiny fibres in nylon clothes and are made up of fragments of larger pieces of plastic that have broken down in the environment.

Generally, any plastic particles smaller than 5 millimetres are considered to be microplastic, and this size is why they are so dangerous.

A study completed in 2015 found that eight trillion microbeads were entering the ocean throughout the United States every day.  The article addressed the harm that consumption of microplastics has had on crustaceans and other filter feeders, and it seems that adding microplastics to the diet of oysters proves that this can have major repercussions on several marine organisms. According to a study by the French Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea, “their ability to reproduce is almost halved.”

This information is eye-opening, laying a platform from which to look deeper into the issue.

Filter-feeding organisms are vital components of ocean food chains, and their extinction could mean severe threats to numerous consumption levels, including to us humans who rely on these species as a source of food.

WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF PLASTIC POLLUTION?

Human beings are the main cause of microplastic pollution.

The main sources of marine plastic are land-based, from urban and storm runoff, sewer overflows, beach visitors, inadequate waste disposal and management, industrial activities, construction, and illegal dumping. Ocean-based plastic originates mainly from the fishing industry, nautical activities, and aquaculture.

Our behaviours don’t help. When we buy a bottle of water or go to a restaurant and get a plastic fork and throw it into the trash, it gets put into the dump and is left for 1000’s of years to decompose – and turn into microplastics. Or let’s say you’re on the beach and have finished your drink and just leave the empty cup there, the chances are that a wave will eventually wash it out to sea where it begins to break down, and some poor fish eats it.

WHAT DOES IT DO TO MARINE LIFE?
Ocean pollution has an deadly effect on marine wildlife.

CSIRO says that “when baby fish eats the plastic, it slowly kills them off”. This means that fewer and fewer adult fish are in the oceans. Thousands of seabirds and sea turtles, seals, and other marine animals are also killed yearly after eating plastic. The worst impacts of marine plastics are ingestion, suffocation, and entanglement.

Before 1972, humans around the world threw trash, sewage, and chemical, industrial, and radioactive wastes into the ocean with no care for the environment.

Ocean wildlife such as seabirds, whales, fish and turtles, can mistake plastic for prey, and countless marine animals die of starvation as their stomachs are filled with plastic debris.

 A study in 2006 says that all saltwater fish will be extinct by 2048 due to ocean plastics.

And can you imagine that! No more fish to swim with, or to eat. No more lovely snorkelling or beautiful fish restaurants.

WHAT DOES IT DO TO THE HUMAN BODY?
Flaws says microplastic particles can also accumulate polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chemicals that are linked to harmful health effects, including various cancers, a weakened immune system, reproductive problems, and more.

A study by Johns Hopkins researchers shows that eating seafood with microplastics can damage the immune system and ruin a guts balance.

Once these chemicals are inside of us, even low doses may have an effect. Think of that fish that ate the deteriorating cup from the beach, it could be the one you are served at a restaurant!

WHAT CAN WE DO TO REDUCE MICROPLASTICS?
Multiple organisations are highlighting this terrible pollution issue. Some, like Greenspace.com, are trying to stop plastic altogether by getting people to object to wrapping up food in supermarkets in plastic wrapping.

We can help!

• Don’t buy food or water in plastic.
• Use cloth bags for shopping.
• Buy natural material clothing.
• Put your waste in a bin.
• Re-cycle. If we put all our plastic into recycling, though it won’t clear the plastic that is already contaminating the earth, it WILL stop further contamination.

There are lots of ways to get active helping the environment. A new UN Environment Programme just had a UN Ocean Conference Youth Forum, calling for a powerful wave of change to #SaveOurOcean. Take a look. The time to act is now. Our ocean is in trouble.

Guest Blogger – Beau van der Beeke, yr. 10 student

 

Guided Loving Kindness/Metta Meditations  can be focused on environmental issues