A new study reported in Science (Feb 13 2015) shows that all forms of plastic trash (containers, fishing buoys, bottles) are rising in the world’s oceans – and will continue to rise unless we take action. The study attempts to estimate how much plastic is actually ending up in the sea.
If you think this doesn’t affect you – think again. Fish, marine mammals, and waterfowl are deeply affected by this trash. They become entangled in plastic ropes and mounds and die from oozing wounds or drown from asphyxiation; and in the case of fish, the degraded bits of plastic bottles and containers are ingested, with unknown consequences to humans and marine mammals.
Check out the NBC Nightly News video of one of the 5 oceanic gyres filled with plastics
New York Times reporter John Schwartz has written two excellent articles on the plastic garbage patches in our oceans – both worth reading. In his February 13, 2015 article, Jenna Jembeck, assistant professor of environmental engineering at the University of Georgia and lead author of the study, is quoted: ” .. [T]he amount of plastic that entered the oceans in the year measured, 2010, might be as little as 4.8 million metric tons or as much as 12.7 million.” The bottom line is: the amount of plastics is going up — and China tops the list of the world’s worst plastics polluters, “with 3.5 million metric tons of marine debris a year.”
Read Schwartz’s other recent article on the trail of plastics in the oceans.
Green News Update has written before on growing accumulation of plastics that is killing ocean life and imperiling human consumers. Read our story from 2014 on Capt Charles Moore in Oceans in Deep Trouble
What can you do ? The low-hanging fruit is simple:
- Use a refillable water bottle and cut out all of the throw-away plastic water bottles;
- Buy sports drinks and soda in glass bottles or decant them into your reusable containers;
- Volunteer at beach cleanup days and always haul your plastic containers home from hiking, bicycling, beach or travel for proper disposal;
- Support legislation to eliminate plastic containers — and especially those that cannot be recycled– that are used for carry-out and doggy bags.
- Recycle, recycle, recycle !