We all know what plastics are and how they are made, but we rarely think about where all that goes. It’s just there and it’s gone, unfortunately plastic is never really gone. They find miraculous ways to get into the ocean, and is deadly to all kinds of creatures, including us. This is based on the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, also known as STGs, number 14.
Surprisingly only few people have realised that plastic can take up to 1000 years to break down, and most plastics have ended up in oceans. “Around 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the oceans per day.” (youtube) People have been wondering how plastic can end up in the ocean. Plastic has two ways of entering the ocean. One, littering, throwing plastic waste on the ground to be washed away by the rain and into rivers that will take it to the ocean.Two, throwing plastic down into the sewers. Most sewers end up in a river or a pond, and the river takes the plastic into the ocean. 90% of ocean plastic comes from just ten rivers in Africa and Asia. The ocean is “Home to five notable trash vortexes, collection of small pieces of plastic. According to experts, it is growing ‘exponentially.’”(Baral) These trash vortexes can be the last thing some marine creatures see.
When plastics are broken down more, they become micro plastics. Micro plastics are indigestible and goes up the food chain. The plankton on the surface of the water consumes the micro plastics, then krill eat the plankton and gets micro plastics into the krill’s body, and so on. “Micro plastics have been found in more than 100 aquatic species” (Parker). These plastics that are in the ocean is deadly to marine animals of all kinds, one with eight arms, or with a transparent skull. When plastics enter the ocean, some bigger pieces of plastic get mistaken for prey and marine creatures will eat them. One example is plastic bags and sea turtles, the sea turtles’ favourite prey is jelly fish, but a floating plastic bag looks exactly like a jelly fish. A sea turtle might mistaken it for prey and eat it. Then the sea turtle will have a false sense of a full stomach, but actually it is stuffed to the brim of plastic.So it will starve to death, with a full stomach. The surprising thing is “High income countries generate more plastic waste per person, but most of the plastic that ends up in the ocean comes from rivers in low-to-middle income countries.” (Ritch) This is because Low-to-middle can not afford to use things other than plastic, plastic costs less, and is durable.They also don’t have the money to recycle the plastics.
We have tried different ways of stopping plastic to get into the oceans. One is by stopping the trash to enter the ocean from the mouths of rivers.This is a fairly simple way of stopping plastic of entering the marine ecosystem, but the plastics already in the ocean is harder to clean. We are sending boats with nets on them to clean up the trash vortexes. At first thought, it might seem to be a good idea but the boats are taking a big risk of sinking and if they do, that will add to the amount of plastic waste in the ocean. According to Alicon “‘What the scientists found came as a complete surprise. ‘Most of the plastic is lost,’ says Andres Cozar” We have been losing plastic in the ocean for quite some time now, and if we can not find them, the plastics will stay in the marine environment for quite some time.
Plastic has not only found its way into the bodies of animals, but it has also entered human body systems. Micro plastics will linger in ones’ bloodstreams until they decompose. Plastic pollution has now became such a big problem that only if every single country comes together and try to stop plastic pollution, they will succeed. Even a small action from a small community can make a difference.