A large number of the plastics that we produceends up polluting the environment, in particular our oceans. Much of the plastics that we use eventually, reaches the ocean, collecting in garbage piles like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In fact, between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastics ends up in the ocean every single year.
How exactly does so much plastic pollution enter the ocean?
There are different ways that plastic pollution reaches the ocean which includes ;
a. LANDFILL : Most plastics that is thrown away will end up in a landfill site. Below is how plastics might enter the ocean through landfill.
While I is being transported to a landfill or once it has reached the landfill, it's common for pieces of plastics to blow away due to the material being so lightweight. They can eventually clutter around storm drains and enter rivers or streams which leads to the sea.
As a way of prevention, we must always recycle our plastics to make new products out of them and help reduce pollution of the ocean.
B.LITTERING : It's quite clear that littering anymaterial especially plastics, will have a huge impact on the environment. Below is how plastics might enter the ocean through littering.
Plastic is a very lightweight material, which means that it can easily be carried by wind or by rain into a river. Once there, your plastic litter will move along with the river until it eventually reaches a larger water body. In the cities, rain water and wind can carry your plastic litter into a storm drain which flows into a river and eventually flows into the sea.
As a means of prevention, we should always make sure to dispose offour rubbish neatly into a garbage bin but simply we may stop littering.
c. FISHING INDUSTRY : Surprisingly, fishing nets accounts for a whopping 46%of the ocean's plastics, with over 640,000 tons (about 580, 000 metric tonnes ) of lost fishing gear going into the ocean each year. It is common for fishing vessels to dispose of fishing gear into the ocean when itisn't being used anymore and they can also get lost during storms or fishing accidents. Abandoned fishing gear not only contributed to our growing plastic problems but also poses a huge threat to marine species like turtles, dolphins and whales.
In 2016, there was a reported 71 cases of whales caught and trapped in an abandoned fishing gear just off the U.S Pacific Coast alone according to Mercy for Animals. Abandoned nets are reffered to as 'ghost nets 'because marine life can find it hard to spot and avoid them, therefore trapping and often slowly killing them.
As a means of prevention, fishermen must be careful not to dispose of the fishing gear into the ocean and also reducing fish consumption cancontribute to the problem.
d. FROM OUR BEAUTY PRODUCTS : There are a range of beauty products which contains more and microbeads. Microbeads are small plastic beads which are usually added to cosmeticproducts to enhance their cleansing capabilities. When microbeads are washed down the drain, the tiny pieces of plastics can bypass the filtration systems within your wastewater treatment plant due to the small size. When this happens, these microbeads are then released with the supposedly'treated ' waterwaste into a water body.
As a way of prevention, we should avoid purchasing products that contain microbeads or microplastics.
e. PRODUCTS THAT ARE FLUSHED :According to the Marine Conservation Society, 8.5% of litter found on beaches come from items that are flushed down the toilets. Recent research by a British wastewater company revealed that 93.9% of survey participants were confident they knew what could and couldn't flush. Yet, 14.1% of participants admitted to flushing wet wipes, 8.6% of people flushed sanitary towels and 10.6% reported flushing tampons, applicators and wrappers.
Many of these items can cause large pipe blockages for homeowners or fatbergs which are masses of non-biodegradable solid waste products tingled together.
As a means of prevention, we should only flush pee and poo. Other items should be thrown in the trash bin.
There are a variety of ways that plastic pollution can enter the ocean, but it all stems from our own human behaviors. The easiest way to reduce plastic pollution is to just stop using plastic altogether. Reusable alternatives should be used instead of single-use items. e.g. Instead of using a plastic bottled water, use a reusable water bottle.
In addition, the purchase of products containing microbeads must be avoided.
By making these small changesto your lifestyle, you can rest assured that your plastic contribution to the ocean is kept to an absolute minimum and overall environmental footprint is reduced.