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Under the sea of plastic

 

Plastic article

Credit: BBC Blue Planet 2

 

By Veronica Kontopoulou

If you happen to be the average social media user, it is very probable that you’ve come across a video depicting a diver’s disclosure on the horrendous plastic contamination in the – typically all clear blue and dazzling – seas of Bali. What you may have not come across, however, is the similarly alarming condition of the seas that are closer to home.

Sadly, it is not just tropical waters of lands from afar that are ravaged by tonnes of plastic waste. New Zealand-based data firm ‘Dumpark’ stated that “based on measurements from 24 expeditions, a recent study estimates a total mass of floating plastic debris of about 268,000 tonnes” and provided a visualisation of the plastic debris found in the oceans all around the world. The results are devastating, to say the least.

Unfortunately, the news gets worse; plastic pollution is not just an aesthetic issue. Far more plastic floats in the ocean than one may think due to its indestructibility. Because of its inability to biodegrade, plastic debris is eventually broken down into microplastics, making it more challenging to detect and more dangerous.

Microplastics are often consumed by the creatures of the sea, meaning that we, humans, in turn, consume microplastics whenever we decide on a seafood-consisting meal. The health impact of microplastics’ presence in the human body is yet to be studied.

Moreover, in September 2017, both Guardian and TIME reported on the shocking revelations of a study (conducted by orbmedia.org) that found that 83% of the samples of tap water tested throughout the globe, contained plastic fibres. Even sea salt is not safe from the plastic plague.

Feeling hopeless? There are ways to help, apart from the obvious recycling:

Kiss disposable plastics goodbye

Say no to grocery bags, plastic wraps, disposable cutlery, take away coffee-cup lids and, for crying out loud, straws!

Save money by saving the environment

Stop buying bottled water, cook more and buy less wrapped food, favour second-hand and when you absolutely must get that plastic wrapped/sealed/boxed goodie, go for the ‘economy pack’.

Vote with your feet

Take a step further and boycott microbeads (found in toothpastes, exfoliants, scrubs). Don’t hesitate to put some pressure on manufacturers either with your voice or your purchasing choices!

Whether we like it or not, plastics have become an essential part of our every-day lives, so it is unlikely that they will vanish from the face of the world any time soon. With its disastrous effects not only to the environment and wildlife but also humans, it is no wonder that plastic contamination has risen as a threat to the scale of global warming. However, it is just as attainable to control and regulate the usage and disposal of plastic.

It is absolutely necessary.

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