Plastic harms the ocean
A giant turtle on the hunt is a majestic moment. She swims gracefully underwater and, with surprising speed and agility considering how slow she is on land, catches a jellyfish… But no, wait. It’s just another plastic bag.
Over 60% of the world’s turtles are currently facing extinction. Many die because they can’t eat or breathe after ingesting pieces of plastic. Whales are found stranded with their stomachs full of plastic; birds choke on debris; dolphins get entangled in discarded fishing nets; fish swallow microplastic particles and contaminate the whole food chain, including what we humans eat and drink; even algae and corals are affected by plastic chemicals.
We like plastic because it’s cheap, resistant, and lasts for ages. But these are the same reasons why plastic is a threat for our seas. Every year in the European Union alone, 60 million tonnes of plastic is produced, almost half of which is thrown away. Between 150 000 to 500 000 tonnes end up in the ocean, the equivalent of up to four garbage trucks poured into the sea every hour.
About 20% of this debris has been thrown away or lost by shipping, fishing or cruise boats. The rest arrives from land, via rivers, litter thrown into the toilet or garbage in gutters that make their way into waterways. Very light plastic bags fly away. Tiny pellets of plastic escape from trucks and industry facilities and get into the ground and nearby rivers.
We can all make a difference by using refillable bottles instead of disposable ones, buying things with less plastic packaging, and making sure we don’t flush plastics down the toilet. But the big change will come from our governments.