Did you know there’s a “continent size patch of plastic” lying stagnant in the middle of the Pacific? It’s been dubbed “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.
And did you know biodegradable plastics don’t degrade in the natural environment?
And do you know how much waste plastic we produce everyday? A lot.
The plastic we put in the general waste bin, the rubbish we accidentally drop, even the plastic we put out for recycling, often ends up in the ocean. It is often sold to (or imposed on) developing countries for recycling yet ends up being dumped at sea where there is no regulation or authorities present. The nature of ocean currents and offshore winds creates a calm area of ocean right in the centre of the Pacific, and this is where that rubbish ends up: 90% of it being plastic.
Plastic does not degrade: full stop. And so-called “biodegradable plastics” do not degrade in natural environments, they require extreme temperatures in blast furnaces. It is a common misconception that they degrade in the natural environment, I for one believed this for many years and felt a bit better when I saw that biodegradable label on my plastic bag and threw it in the general waste thinking “at least it will biodegrade and not cause any harm”.
But plastics do break down. Into tiny, little, bite-sized pieces. Literally. They break down so small that even plankton eat them thinking they’re tasty smaller plankton. And we’ve all seen the distressing images of marine life and sea birds tangled in plastic bags or the remnants of last weekend’s six-pack of lager.
But how can we stop this? Well obviously it’s a huge task and certainly not an easy one to tackle, but we at least reduce our impact. If we all make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of disposable plastic we use, less will end up in the oceans and causing so much harm. Use a reusable coffee cup instead of buying disposable coffee cups every time you’re offered that coffee to go. Buy loose veg and leave it that way in your basket next time you buy your groceries, realistically what use is that bag you tie it in? Or partake in Plastic-Free July to realise how much you actually consume and how you can change it!