We’re using the great outdoors as a huge dustbin and much of this litter is ending up in the sea and on our beaches. Last year a study produced by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation produced some truly disturbing conclusions: the equivalent of one entire truck of plastic (8 tonnes) is dumped in the sea every minute and, if we don’t change things, by 2050 we could have more plastic than fish (by weight) in the sea.
In September our own survey (the Great British Beach Clean) has reported a 10% increase in beach litter. Enough is enough.
Do not let drinks cups, plastic cutlery, straws, plastic bottles, lids and stirrers replace sealife.
Our oceans are sick. Not a day goes by without new scientific evidence making the headlines regarding the plastic plague that is enveloping our seas, like a virus with no cure. Our understanding increases, and so does the horror.
At first it was stranded starved animals with stomachs full of plastic telling us how lethal this light, sturdy and practical material we use everyday is, once out at sea.
Then, with research progressing, the plot thickened and got gloomier. Plastics in the ocean are not just mistaken for food and ingested, they actually represent a toxic nightmare, that’s messing with mother nature. Man-made chemicals cling to plastics, like the crew of a sunken ship clinging to a life raft. With an estimated 300 billion pieces of plastic floating in the Arctic Ocean alone, all acting like a toxic sponge to carcinogenic and endocrine disruptive chemicals like PCBs, BPAs and pesticides – our seas are facing horrors on an unprecedented scale. Animals that have survived for centuries in the remotest parts of the world are now playing a role in a real life drama – their bodies are being changed by an unseen enemy.
The impacts of ocean plastics is now on an unprecedented scale – they’re a toxic sponge for man-made chemicals, impacting the whole ocean ecosystem.
- These chemicals that stick to plastics massively reduce reproduction in seals, and are linked to spontaneous abortions in Californian sea lions.
- They cause female polar bears to become more masculine whilst leaving the male’s penis bones fragile and at risk of breaking. A mating disaster.
- The pellets used in the plastic industry are the same size and shape as fish eggs and seabirds feed them to their chicks. Every year, tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway Island in the North Pacific Ocean from starvation, toxicity, and choking on plastics. Like the albatross, our very own fulmar population is also affected with plastics, including nurdles, being found in the digestive system of over 90% of sampled birds.
We need to act now. Together.