Not only does it threaten our marine life, some projections state that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050, but it also threatens our health. A recent finding has uncovered that plastic pollution in the ocean is making its way onto our dinner plates, via sea salt, with most major sea salt brands containing microscopic particles of degraded plastics.. From plastic microbeads to bits of old fishing nets, from plastic bags to kids toys, you can bet that if you’ve been eating sea salt in the last year or two, that some of those micro plastics have ended up in your dinner. And scientists and medical professionals have no idea what impact plastic has on the human biosystem, because it’s not yet possible to trace, isolate and study these impacts on humans.
We have been creating our life on the Earth unconsciously for too long. Now is the time for conscious, deliberate action.
You’ve probably heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by now, an area in the ocean three times the size of France (1.6 million square kilometers), that is chocker block full of marine plastic pollution. It accumulates there due to the gyres and currents of the ocean, with between 1.15 to 2.41 million metrics tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year. Not all of it ends up there, but you can bet your sweet bippy that a lot of it does.
Boyan Slat and Ocean Clean Up Technology
A slew of projects on plastic pollutants have arisen as public awareness about this major environmental issue have surfaced. Boyan Slat, a Dutch engineer and university dropout, is about to launch one of the biggest ocean cleanup efforts in history, proving that you don’t need a degree to help change the world. By the end of 2018, it is expected to have brought back its first scoop load of plastic debris and is projected to be able to “harvest” 5000 kgs of this valuable resource (which will be recycled) per month. This project on plastic pollutants hopes to collect roughly half of the great pacific garbage patch within the next five years. Which is great, given that because the majority of plastic waste products aren’t biodegradable, they just break down into smaller and smaller and smaller pieces, which is how they end up choking an all manner of sea life and ending up on your french fries.
Even with this amazing ocean cleanup technology, plastic pollution in the ocean is still a huge problem. With millions of tonnes entering the already extant ocean of plastic every year, there is a lot more that must be done. Ocean cleanup organisations have their work cut out for them. From the grassroots Surfrider Foundation to the Ocean Conservancy and the Environmental defense fund, millions of dollars are being poured into the ocean in order to cleanse it of our love for, and some would suggest, mindless use of, plastics, combined with inadequate recycling and waste collection systems in developing countries. And of course natural disasters like tsunamis sweep all kinds of things into the ocean that shouldn’t be there. So the question then remains, what else can we do? What are some other plastic pollution solutions that we can act on?
Plastic Pollution Solutions
In order to answer that question, we need to fully understand the problem, and the factors that influence said problem. One major contributing factor is our incessant need for “stuff”. Yep, that’s right, our consumerist ways, our desire for the cheap and easy, the convenient, the trivial, the legitimate usefulness and the outright absurd (who needs a giant inflatable flamingo REALLY?). If we can reduce our need for throwaway plastic goods (that we are probably going to have lost interest in within six months anyway) and instead choose to value biodegradable, well made goods constructed from renewable wood, metal, stone, fabric and truly biodegradable plastic alternatives, that is a step in the right direction.
But not everyone can afford such things! I hear you say. Yep, it’s true. We live in a world of MASSIVE wealth inequality (helping that issue would also be a step in a fantastic direction). If you can’t afford new, second hand goods abound. And everyone knows that happiness comes from within and no one REALLY needs a new kettle just because everyone else has got one.. Trust me, it’s not going to make you any happier in the long run. Connect to the earth, nature, family, friends and your true self.. the “small” but important things that make life really meaningful and truly rich beyond measure. Therein, lies everything you will ever need (and you can pretty much make do with everything else, including that outdated toaster oven).
Further, when you find a product on the shelf of your local supermarket that has 17 plastic wrappers where there should only be one, email or call the company responsible and tell them you’re choosing to not buy their whatever because they clearly don’t have their environmental ethics hat on. What difference is this going to make? Supply and demand baby. If enough people do it, the companies either will have to listen and adapt or risk being driven out of the market. Facebook groups such as “People Over Plastic – an action group” are examples of community efforts to reach out to big business and tell them “enough is enough”. So there you have it folks, these are but some of the plastic pollution solutions that we can take action on. What others can you think of? What else can you do? Imagine what you want the outcome to look like, find one possible pathway solution to that big picture outcome and ask “Who do I have to become in order to help create that change?”. We have been creating our life on the Earth unconsciously for too long. Now is the time for conscious, deliberate action.