Bits of Knowledge Help Prevent Oceans of Plastic
Let’s get real about plastics. Today, many picnics are saved by plastic beverage containers on beaches that wisely prohibit glass containers. On these beaches, a garbage can — and often a recycle bin — are fewer steps away than from your beach blanket to your car. Plastic containers assure less “clean-up” announcements in stores and do not shatter on kitchen and bathroom floors. Plastics make life cleaner and easier.
And 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year.
If you care enough to read this, you already know the importance of recycling and properly disposing of plastics. If images of death by plastic in marine life does not anger you, we hope that eventually you will become enlightened and a more responsible citizen of Planet Earth. As Sylvia Earl puts it no blue no green, Lets take care of our oceans.
One area of plastic pollution gets too little attention, but it is a major factor in the degradation of our planet: micro-plastics. So where do these micro-plastics come from? Well, some of it comes from the breakdown of larger plastic pieces such as water bottles and beach toys. There are four notable direct sources:
- Pre-production plastic pellets are raw resin that is melted and used to manufacture plastic containers that we are happy to use. They vary in size from 1mm to 5mm, so they are not harvested by beach clean-up efforts. Unfortunately, tons of these pellets are lost during manufacturing and transportation and end up in the ocean;
- Plastic abrasives are used in many personal care products, including shower gels, toothpaste, and cosmetics. After they scrub the dead skin and other gunk from bodies, they follow the biodegradable skin down the drain on their unbiodegradable way to the oceans. One shower could result in 100,000 plastic bits entering the ocean;
- Plastic resins are used in a process called shot blasting that is used to clean ships. The ship is scoured clean and the tiny resin “shots” go on to kill the fish and marine wildlife.
Okay, these ocean-killers are not your fault. You read labels and if your personal care products are not biodegradable, you do not wash them down the drain. You use a special strainer or choose other products. But here is an area where we can all be proven guilty unless clothing is all natural fabrics:
- Plastic fibers such as nylon and acrylic are gone with the “rinse” cycle on washing machines and on their way, eventually, to our oceans.
Micro-plastics are becoming better known as an ocean pollutant. In the United Kingdom, MPs are calling for a ban on tiny plastic beads in cosmetic and other personal care products. Some large cosmetic companies have made voluntary, and huge, commitments to phase out micro-beads by 2020. You may want to consider what is on your face and if you should choose a biodegradable product. Toiletries are big items on gift lists. Consider how you can give the ocean a present with your gift selections.
Tamara Galloway, University of Exeter, reported. “Pollution from micro-beads is a truly global problem. Tides and currents can carry pollution across oceans to countries a long distance from where they were originally released. Ideally, any legislation to control them should be on an international level.”
Micro-plastics are found in deep ocean sediment and in icebergs, making it an obvious, planetary challenge. When it is difficult to think globally, try thinking personally: when you eat six oysters, you probably ingest 50 particles of indigestible microplastics. Plastics can be used to set a table; they should not be on the menu!
For eco-friendly clothing, shoes, products and surf gear contact us. We are committed to ocean preservation and your responsible enjoyment of our great outdoors.
Our other blog that talk about plastics can be found here: