HOW on earth does all the plastic get into the oceans?

©WDC

There is a patch of plastic in the Pacific Ocean the size of Europe. There are even more garbage patches in the ocean… If we keep up, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Every minute literally 1 ton of plastic makes its way into the ocean.

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What’s the problem with plastic in the ocean?

I stumbled over this video quite a while ago and I still really love it – it explains it so well 😁💚

Friday last week I had the pleasure to attend the blogger workshop on plastic pollution in the oceans, hosted by the NPO Whale & Dolphin Conservation. Most of it I had already heard or read. But it was definitely something else to have a marine biologist explain it and to be able to ask some more questions. Ghost nets, for example, are drifting fishing nets that have been lost or “disposed of”. Sea creatures often get entangled in the nets and are injured or starve to death. I did know that, but it still shocked me to hear that it usually takes months, because both whales and dolphins have a lot of body fat. They are highly intelligent so they know that all they can do is to drift and die a slow death😢💔. More on the topic here.

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@WDC – Alexa Brosius (Slowly Veggie), Inka Chall (blickgewinkelt), my humble self 😜, Kathrin Tetzlaff (ein bisschen vegan), Theresa Kellner (the waitress), Petra Schmatz (greenLIFESTYLE), Steffen Kraft (Kraft & Adel), Nele Prinz (No Plastic Challenge), Benedikt Tröster (Vaude), Katrin Schüler (Plastikfreie Zone), Franziska Gruber (WDC), David Pfender (WDC) and Madeleine Alizadeh (dariadaria)

I really enjoyed the workshop that brought together people from different areas: animal protection, food, zero waste, travelling, lifestyle, beauty, fashion, and business. It was so inspiring and great to meet everyone 💚!

But how DOES all the plastics end up in the Pacific Ocean? It’s not like we rent a ship to throw our household trash into the water…

This great and very entertaining mockumentary is about a plastic bag, however, this does apply to all sorts of lightweight trash:

Did you know that 80% of the plastics in the ocean comes from land-based activities and not from what is thrown or lost overboard from ships? It is trash blown from the streets, trash cans, or landfills into rivers, sewers, or directly into the ocean. However, it is also microplastics from products like toothpaste or from washing your clothes made from or with synthetic fibres!

I always thought that throwing my trash into trash cans and dumpsters meant that I could prevent that. While this does help, there is no guarantee none of it will not end up in the huge Pacific garbage patch.

Just a couple of months ago we visited a waste management facility, and I snatched this photo of open containers full of plastic trash right out in the open where some of it can easily be blown away.

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There are also trash mountains at the harbor right next to the water, waiting to be loaded onto a ship. Guess what – of course a part of it will get blown right into the rivers or the sea!

So what can I do?

Preventing plastic waste from happening in the first place is of course the best method to nip the problem in the bud.

  1. Don’t buy or use cosmetics that contain microbeads! Your product contains microbeads if it lists one of the followings as an ingredient: polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate or polymethyl methacrylate.
  2. Prefer natural over synthetic fibres when buying new (or pre-owned) cloths.
  3. Don’t throw trash onto the street (nope, no cigarette buds either), and do pick up a thing or two when you walk past loose trash on the street.

6 Comments

  1. Shia, this post is great, and that first video is a great visual for our plastic problems. I just wish people would WAKE UP and re-think their plastic use NOW instead of later. As a teacher, I see every day how children are raised to use plastic as a daily disposable, like it is the most un-harmful thing to do. Their sandwiches are wrapped in clingwrap, their daily yogurt containers are thrown away, and they even get plastic spoons sent with them to eat said yogurt or pudding. It pains me that children are raised with such nonchalance for environmental impacts, when it is more important than ever to be paying attention to such issues.

    • It is so sad that what we do is viewed as “extreme” – shouldn’t it be the other way around? Isn’t it extreme to wrap your kid’s lunch in layers and layers of disposable plastic, even though plastic is harmful both to our health and the planet? Isn’t it extreme that we have almost used up all of our planet’s resources in the past 60 years, even though these resources took millions of years to form?

      • I agree with you completely. I can’t believe the weird looks I get sometimes. A colleague of mine once saw me eating with a bamboo fork on a class field trip and started laughing at me and said, “Why are you using bamboo cutlery?” So I explained. “So do you only own bamboo cutlery?” Umm… and then another colleague chimed in and actually made fun of me for it, while they were using plastic forks for their meal, which got thrown in the garbage afterward. How am I the odd one?! Plastic cutlery. COME ON. *frustrated*.

        • WTF?? First of all, that is on the verge of bullying – definitely NOT COOL! Secondly, you don’t have any explaining to do! You are doing the right thing! Don’t let anybody put you down (I know it’s easier said than done though…)

  2. Pingback: Humanity In Crisis, Part 4: Trashing Our Planet | Gumshoe News

  3. Peter Morley

    I don’t believe such vast amounts of plastic gets into the oceans by accident but it must be dumped there deliberately.
    Individuals and countries responsible must be named and shamed.
    Peter

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