In the Pacific Ocean, a seventh continent is forming. Consisting only of plastic, this 80,000-ton floating mass continues to spread across the ocean. Whereas numerous countries have put laws in place to reduce this pollution, plastic waste still represents 73% of that which washes up on our shores worldwide. At this unprecedented rate, experts predict that by 2050 all aquatic bird species will feed only on plastic.
Meanwhile, ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by it. Some are harmed visibly—strangled by abandoned fishing nets or discarded six-pack rings. Many more are probably harmed invisibly. Marine species of all sizes, from zooplankton to whales, now eat microplastics, the bits smaller than one-fifth of an inch across
Single-use plastic bags are:
BAD FOR THE PLANET: They take 100s of years to degrade and they not only pollute the environment but actually directly harm many living organisms
BADLY DESIGNED: It doesn’t make sense to produce something that lasts 100s of years when it is going to be used for a few minutes. It is a contradiction that in a throw-away society nothing good lasts whilst bad products are forever.
UGLY: Reusable bags are a lot cooler !
EXPENSIVE: Producers don’t take responsibility for the impact of their product. Plastic bags are cheap to produce but very expensive to clean from the environment.
BAD FOR YOUR MIND: They embody the message of the throw-away society that is trashing the planet.
UNFAIR: Future generations will suffer from the pollution caused by plastic bags, without getting any of the benefit. Future generations don’t vote, but they count.
MADE OF CRUDE OIL e.g. finite resource
GET INTO THE FOOD CHAIN: in the form of pulverised plastic waste in the sea gets into the food chain
The news is not all bad though, certain non-profit organisations, including The Ocean Cleanup, use new technological advancements to set up cleaning systems that recover plastic waste from the ocean. Its objective is to clear the Great Pacific garbage patch within five years, which is located between California and Hawaii. Experts estimate it is three times the size of France, standing at 1.6 million square kilometres.There is undoubtedly a long way to go before we definitively do away with plastic in our daily lives. Still, thanks to a sense of community engagement and commitment, as well as the increasing number of available alternatives, we might be surprised by the tangible efforts that we can make. Many plant and animal species could indeed be saved by adopting more environmentally-friendly measures.