Commonly found plastics include cigarette butts, food wrappers, beverage bottles, straws, cups and plates, bottle caps, and single-use bags. The side effects of plastic pollution surround us in our land, water and air. It's not unusual to see images of seabirds with six-pack rings captured around their necks or of dead fish and whales with plastic in their stomachs. This material has left a significant imprint on human life since its popularization in the 1950s, but it has also brought consequences.
Every year, between 1.26 and 2.65 million tons (1.15 and 2.41 million tons) of plastic enter the ocean from river systems. This debris contributes to the enormous ocean vortices of plastic materials, also known as gyres. A study found that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch contains more than 87,000 tons of debris (79,000 tons), and that this area picks up material more quickly than surrounding waters. Single-use plastics are some of the major contributors to waste.
Although the problem is important, it is not invincible. At 4ocean, we work tirelessly to clean up waste from the ocean and shorelines, and our goal is to educate others about the harm of plastic. With an estimated production of 330 million tons of plastic waste (300 million tons) every year, finding solutions is more important than ever. Plastic bottles often appear in discussions about the worst single-use plastic products, which is probably due to their omnipresence.
Even if you don't drink water from plastic bottles, you're likely to use them in other areas of your life, such as shampoo, coffee cream, dish soap, and more. In the European Union alone, people consume 46 billion bottles of beverages a year. Most bottles are macroplastic when they enter the ocean. However, as they break down, they become easier for unsuspecting sea creatures to ingest.
Sharp fragments can damage the digestive system of the animals that eat them. Synthetic surfaces can also become a breeding ground for marine bacteria, a process called biofouling that exposes humans and animals alike to diseases. Clothing made from synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon contains microfibers. Every time you wash your clothes, the garments shed these tiny fibers, which then travel to the local water treatment plant after the machine drains the clothes.
While facilities can eliminate most of the wires, there is always a quantity that reaches the environment. Research from the University of California at Santa Barbara revealed that synthetic garments release 1,174 milligrams of microfibers when washed. Try a reusable bag on your next purchase instead of plastic. Many sidewalk recycling programs refuse to accept plastic bags because they get entangled in machines and slow down operations.
The rare bags that do succeed do not lend themselves well to the creation of recycled products due to the fragility of the material and the low quality of the material. Everyone else who avoids recycling goes to landfills, and some become roadside trash or ocean trash. The best thing to do is to hand over your plastic bags to a local grocery store to be picked up and replaced with reusable bags whenever possible. Cigarette butts often go unnoticed when it comes to plastic pollution in the ocean, but these have been the number one item collected during beach cleanings for decades.
Cigarette filters are not biodegradable, they are made of a plastic called cellulose acetate. This material can take years to completely decompose due to several factors, including its low nutrient content and its inaccessibility to microbial decomposers. When these cigarette butts enter the ocean, the chemicals in them can leach into the water. Just a few of these substances are nicotine, ammonia, lead, and arsenic.
Marine creatures can ingest these tobacco products and be harmed by these toxic compounds, in addition to drowning and suffocating on pieces of cigarettes. Microbeads often come as exfoliating agents in skincare scrubs and body soaps. They may be attractive and effective to the skin, but their effects on ocean habitats are undesirable. Once you wash these small granules down the drain, they enter your water source and become virtually impossible to remove.
Because of their size, microplastics are much more difficult to detect than larger pieces. Although straws are small, they are a major contributor to plastic pollution. You can find them in almost any restaurant or restaurant. They add an element of comfort and, for some people, are a necessity.
But their usefulness disappears once they enter the environment. Because of their lightweight quality, wind and rain can easily drag them into bodies of water. Their slim design makes it easy for them to get stuck in an animal's nostrils or trachea, which can cause injury or death. In addition, their small and flimsy composition means that they are never recyclable.
Like plastic bags, they obstruct the machinery used to process recyclable waste. Abandoned fishing gear, or ghost gear, has a unique place on this list. Because people use fishing gear multiple times, you wouldn't consider it a single-use plastic. However, it still has an impact comparable to that of microplastics, bottles and other single-use products.
That's because fishing tackle can harm marine life months or even years after it enters the ocean. According to a study, fishing gear, together with balloons and plastic bags, is estimated to pose the greatest threat of marine animals becoming entangled. Animals that get caught in nets or traps end up being bait for predators, who are also trapped when they try to hunt prey. The cycle continues, with more animals losing their lives because of discarded equipment, such as nets, lines and traps.
This equipment had lethal consequences for 25 to 50% of the seabirds included in the study. Creatures that reach these traps often die from asphyxiation or exhaustion while trying to escape. In addition to being entangled, fishing gear represents a significant risk of ingestion and contamination by biofouling, although their effects are currently less known. Reusable bottles are a popular alternative to plastic packaging and offer a much greater variety than plastic bottles.
Many of them have stylish designs and come in durable materials that stand up to everyday use. Exchange your disposable plastics for a sturdy thermos or cup, such as the 20 oz 4ocean X YETI Rambler cup, made of stainless steel. Stainless steel and glass cups have become a favourable substitute for throw-away containers. Many cosmetics and skincare companies are eliminating microbeads from their formulas and using other materials to achieve the same exfoliating effects.
Standard substitutions include salt, sugar, and oatmeal. Because these substances are found in nature and are easy to obtain, you can make your own beauty products for greater peace of mind. Be aware of formulas that use crushed nut shells, although they can scratch the skin. Metal, bamboo and paper straws have emerged as solutions to the ever-recognizable plastic straw.
Some companies have started to offer other options besides plastic, while others have eliminated the material and only use products other than plastic. Selecting your preferred option depends primarily on the type of beverage you plan to consume and the level of flexibility you need. Bamboo and wheat straws offer a biodegradable advantage: stainless steel and glass have less flexibility and work better with cold liquids. The ocean absorbs 25% of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases oxygen.
This phenomenon is favorable for the planet because it eliminates this gas from our air and hijacks it in other places. However, the increase in ocean plastics, especially microplastics, can harm animals that carry carbon, such as zooplankton. With fewer of these animals playing a role in absorbing carbon, the chain could be disrupted and more unsequestered carbon could populate Earth's atmosphere. Plastic bags, shrink wraps, and other types of plastic film can suffocate corals and prevent them from receiving sunlight or nutrients.
On the island of Koh Tao, in the Gulf of Thailand, discarded fishing gear often damages corals and causes tissue loss, which can eventually result in death from illness. Another typical cause of mortality is that corals are trapped by fishing nets and are buried under sediment. At least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Plastic waste is currently the most abundant type of garbage in the ocean and represents 80% of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.
Plastic is found on the coasts of every continent, and more plastic waste is found near popular tourist destinations and densely populated areas. We believe in the philosophy of informing others about ocean pollution and the consumption of plastic, we don't judge. The main sources of plastic waste found in the ocean come from land and come from urban and storm runoff, sewer overflows, garbage, inadequate waste disposal and management, industrial activities, tire abrasion, construction and illegal dumping. Now that you know which plastics contribute to the generation of ocean waste, you can explore options to reduce their consumption and protect the planet.
As Allison Schutes, associate director of the Trash Free Seas program at Ocean Conservancy, says: “Every element of debris that is removed is one less element that puts ocean wildlife at risk. Eliminating some of the worst products that contribute to plastic waste will help, more than the ocean, the entire planet to benefit. .