Most of the plastic dumped in the ocean eventually breaks down into tiny microscopic pieces of plastic which to marine life appears looks like Phytoplankton. Plankton is a source of seafood eaten by many forms of marine life and no, they cannot sift through the tiny pieces of seafood and extract out the plastic from the real plankton.
Take those rings that bind our four-pack of beer, they not only get stuck around the necks of marine wildlife and birds but when they do break up, get eaten by other fish fooled by its resemblance to something tasty. Plastic is getting into the ocean and into the bellies of marine life. This means the global supply of seafood is slowly but surely becoming contaminated.
Whales, for instance, eat plankton by the trillion – In Seattle, in April 2010, a grey whale that had died and was found stranded on the beach there. Was found to have more than 20 plastic bags, small towels, surgical gloves, plastic pieces a pair of sweatpants, a golf ball duct-tape and a whole of other man-made rubbish. The problem is we are still producing millions of tonnes of plastic every year. So this environmental catastrophe is entirely man-made. Around 40 percent of all the plastic that humans make is used and then thrown away.
But how can you throw something away, which just won’t go “away”? The power of plastic is phenomenal. It cannot be destroyed, it is here to stay, you cannot even burn it off and it can’t be hidden or buried away somewhere. It has been estimated that if you buried a plastic bag – like the one normally issued by your local supermarket – it would take 1000 years for it to disappear and biodegrade.
Legislation and policy changes have to be made to stop the plastic from polluting our oceans. If we ignore this, it will ultimately begin to affect the very fabric of our society. Our health will be damaged, in many cases irreparably.
A dead whale that had beached, had 44kgs of plastic in its stomach!
If you want to help, please please, please, recycle every piece of plastic you come into contact with. Don’t use straws (what’s wrong with your lips?) or use a plastic bag, buy a reusable shopping bag, which you should take to the supermarket every time you go for your weekly groceries.