Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental problems facing our planet today. It’s a huge contributor to marine life deaths, human health problems and economic costs worldwide.

The most common source of plastic litter is from the waste that people throw away. This is usually in the form of bottles, jars, plastic packaging and food containers. Sadly, most of this goes into landfill and contaminates the air and land.

Land litter is a major contributor to ocean and sea-level pollution as well. It’s blown around by the wind, is trapped on poles, fences, and towers and can entangle wildlife and suffocate them to death.

Storms and rivers are another big contributor, flushing plastic into the sea. In fact, some studies have shown that up to 60% of plastic pollution is from rivers.

Often, this plastic enters the ocean as small pieces of discarded plastic that are carried by the wind and water to the beaches where they become washed up. This happens in both the coastal and offshore regions of our seas, causing massive damage to ecosystems as it degrades into microplastics and nanoplastics that are easily digested by marine life.

Fish, turtles and other animals mistake the floating plastic for food and ingest it. This can cause them to suffocate or drown, or they can suffer internal injury and die.

Sea birds can also eat the plastic, mistaking it for eggs or plankton and causing them to die. This happens in many locations across the world, especially in areas where there are no clean-ups and where marine life has not been protected.

When plastic breaks down into tiny particles, it becomes more easily ingested by other marine life, especially when there are harmful chemicals attached to it. This can make them sick, cause intestinal injury or death, and transfer plastic up the food chain to other larger creatures that eat them for nutrients.

In the North Pacific, the most common species that eat these small plastic fragments are fish, which can ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year. They then transfer the debris up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals, as well as humans who eat seafood.

Other animals, such as whales, dolphins and porpoises, can swallow large amounts of plastic. This can lead to a variety of health issues, including cancer, birth defects, and death.

As a result of these impacts, more people are becoming aware of the importance of reducing and reusing plastics. It’s also becoming more popular to recycle and compost, which helps reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

The production, use and disposal of plastics are a serious problem that needs to be addressed. This includes promoting sanitary and environmentally-friendly waste management systems, as well as providing a sustainable recycling infrastructure to avoid the release of harmful chemicals into our environment.