With more than 10 million tons of plastic entering our oceans each year, how is plastic pollution effecting us and what can we do about it?
What is plastic pollution?
The discovery of plastic durability has led to the over-production of plastic including everything from spacecraft to food packaging. Most of these plastics being produced tend to be single-use, plastics which unfortunately, eventually end up discarded into the ocean. This is a REAL, pressing environmental issue with more than 10 million tons of plastic entering the ocean each year , causing harm to the marine organisms and ecosystems that live under the sea.
How is plastic affecting wildlife?
Plastic is having a detrimental effect on marine wildlife, particularly through ingestion. Seabirds ingesting plastic have been documented worldwide, with vast numbers of species being found with plastic pieces in their stomachs. This causes a myriad of consequences such as stomach obstruction and internal body wounds, which prevents the the ability for birds from being able to feed on their prey. Plastic ingestion reduces the volume available in their stomachs for real food and adds extra, toxic weight to the bird caused .
Entanglement is another damaging consequence that plastic causes to marine life. The large quantities of fishing nets, plastic bags, plastic bottles and many other plastic forms are causing sea turtles, seals, dolphins, whales and other marine organisms to become entangled within them. This can tragically cause severed limbs, scars and even death to these beautiful creatures.
An increasingly pressing issue is the discovery of micro-plastics and chemical contamination within our oceans. Once plastic breaks down into smaller pieces, organisms such as small fish and marine invertebrates ingest them. Larger organisms that feed on these fish therefore ingest this plastic as well and this becomes a recurring toxic substance throughout the marine food web. This process is known as eutrophication and could has lead to the ingestion of plastic through in humans too!
How is plastic pollution affecting us?
Micro-plastics might not only be ingested by humans through fish consumption, but also orally through water and through inhaling micro- or nanoparticles in the air, which could have unintended health consequences .
What can we do to stop plastic pollution?
Reduce your plastic consumption as much as possible as an individual! Due to the fecundity of plastic within our society, it can seem rather difficult to avoid using plastic; single-use plastics in particular. Below are 8 useful and easy to implement tips that you can do to help fight against plastic pollution and help conserve marine life, as well as your own personal health!
1 = use a reusable water bottle (opt for a metal or glass one where possible).
2 = bring your own reusable coffee cup, cutlery, metal straws with you instead of saying yes to the plastic alternatives take-out options offered to you!
3 = always bring a reusable bag with you! (I always bring tote bags with me and by bringing my own bag, I save money from having to pay for a non-durable plastic one)
4 = try to buy loose items (e.g., fruit and veg) at the supermarket instead of those wrapped in plastic. I have pledged to try and do this as much as I can for Plastic Free July! Alternatively, if you have a local farmer’s market nearby, you could buy your fresh produce from there instead.
5 = choose the larger, cardboard box detergents rather than the plastic bottle alternatives.
6 = choose plastic free gum. Good alternatives include: Chewsy, True Gum, Georganics.
7 = choose plastic free deodorant! I recently purchased a ‘salt of the earth’ deodorant which is decently priced and does the job well 😊.
8 = contact governmental organizations and companies to pledge for them to take action against plastic consumption and provide them with alternatives with what they could use instead of plastic (such as using paper bags and cardboard packaging rather than using plastic)
 Carney Almroth, B. and Eggert, H., 2019. Marine Plastic Pollution: Sources, Impacts, and Policy Issues. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 13(2), pp.317-326.
 Cartraud, A., Le Corre, M., Turquet, J. and Tourmetz, J., 2019. Plastic ingestion in seabirds of the western Indian Ocean. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 140, pp.308-314.
 Ritchie, H. and Roser, M., 2018. Plastic Pollution. Our World in Data.