Plastic pollution in the ocean is, by far, one of the worst biohazards of the Millenium. It damages the ecosystem, causing marine life and birds to become extinct.
We know that an ocean with plastic pollution floating in it can’t have many positive effects. But how does it affect the environment, and by extension, our lives? We have some answers.
How does plastic pollution in the ocean affect the environment and us?
1. Ghost Gear Injures the guts of marine mammals
Plastic that lingers can cause digestive issues in marine mammals. These often go untreated. It causes gut blockage and, eventually, death.
Environmentalists suggest that plastic consumption amounts to several tonnes a year. Small mammals in jest it, thereby spreading the risk to larger ones.
What about plastic and Ghost Gear? The plastic that drifts in the ocean has a close connection to ghost gear or the fishing nets abandoned at sea. These nets entangle and threaten marine life. According to a Greenpeace report, they are a primary source of plastic pollution in our oceans.
And that’s not the only concern. Ghost gear comprises plastic. Hence, microplastics will increase as fishers dump more ghost nets into our oceans. It puts marine animals, and, by extension, humans, at risk.
2. Harmful Substances
Plastic pollution that floats randomly affects human beings in different ways, albeit indirectly. Fish consume plastic; humans do so when they eat them.
Scientists have found microplastics in 114 marine species, and the number is enlarging. Although the amount is negligible, experts are still concerned about their effects.
Plastic is a hotbed of hazardous substances. These find their way into our homes when we eat affected marine life and cause numerous health problems. Plastic pollution is a source of lead, cadmium, and mercury, toxins that enter our bloodstreams when we consume the fish in the ocean.
The other is Bisphenol A, used in food packing, plastic bottles, and other materials. BPA affects hormonal function. We take it in when we consume marine mammals. Research shows that plastic constituents trigger cancer, immune deficiency, and congenital disabilities. One study found that BPA (Bisphenol A) is present in most teenagers.
Although we need more research on the dangers of plastic-contaminated seafood, we know that it cannot be beneficial for us.
3. Plastic is Stubborn
Plastic is a danger because it doesn’t break down quickly. It degrades after many centuries. When it does, it breaks into small pieces known as microplastics. The decomposition releases chemicals into the sea, endangering marine life.
Plastic harms not only living beings but the environment as well. Microplastics release trace gases and emit them when exposed to sunlight. These cause climate change.
Methane is such a gas. It and other gases can affect the international community’s ability to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celcius.
4. We Breathe Plastic
Many people are unaware of this, but we inhale plastics when we throw rubbish into the open air or our oceans. Research shows that people consume more than 50000 plastic particles a year.
How you can help the ocean?
1. Know about Environmental Issues
Then, take part in your local, environmental efforts. If there’s a beach cleanup or recycling project in your neighborhood, take part in it. Anything that you can contribute counts. Make it a point to support waterway cleanups. Work with organizations that are working to stop plastic from flowing into our oceans.
3. Use fewer plastics
The best way to reduce the use of plastics is to cut them yourself. Don’t use plastic straws when buying drinks – buy metal ones that you can reuse instead. Some restaurants contribute to the Green Effort by not providing plastic straws.
Make it a point to visit undisturbed (at least, relatively) areas. Eco-tourism is an alternative to commercial ones. Tourists tend to travel irresponsibly during these. Organizations such as Waves for Development ensure that your trips leave a positive instead of a negative one. Visit Nicaragua, Peru, or Bolivia – volunteer to build communities.
If you visit commercial tourist destinations like Bali, have a purpose. Point out any damage to the environment, and remind your loved ones not to litter or use non-biodegradable products.
5. Stay active.
Why not swim, sail, or canoe in the ocean? You’ll appreciate it more of you are active. Studies show that people who engage in outdoor activities have more environmental concerns than others.
6. Up-cycle Your Belongings
Do you want to throw away your old plastic table? Tap on your creative juices. Up-cycle it by giving it a fresh coat of paint, and add a few personal touches. You may re-purpose it and use it as a vanity.
7. Teach others
The best way to express your concerns about plastic swirling around in the ocean is by teaching others. Education is an extension of learning, and it allows interaction with others. As a teacher, you can also communicate your love of the Earth with them.
Be the change you envision. Don’t let plastic pollution lying around in the ocean overwhelm you.