Everyone has heard of the term ‘plastic pollution’, yet not many people take into consideration how deep an impact this will have when left ignored further. Globally, it is estimated that over 100 million marine animals are killed each year by plastic floating in the oceans. One of the animals most affected by this is seabirds, and it is estimated that right now, 15% of a chick’s body weight can be plastic due to their consumption of this poisonous material.
However, this does not just affect animals – this goes all the way around the food chain back to… us. Studies show that plastic pollution kills up to a million people per year due to diseases or accidents. However, this is not surprising due to the fact that there is more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way.One of the most horrifying examples of these statistics is a part of the ocean containing 1.8 trillion pieces of litter, the Great Pacific Great Patch.
Located between Hawaii and California, The Great Pacific Great Patch holds approximately 80,000 tonnes of plastic, and covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometres, twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France! What’s so shocking about this image is the sheer volume of plastic presented to us by just looking at it. Just thinking of the devastation this man-made ‘island’ has caused to many species of marine life and birds living in and around this area is a sorrowful scene.
One of the charities dedicated to removing the problems associated with plastic in the oceans, one of their main focuses being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is known as The Ocean Cleanup. This charity aims to clean up 50% of this deadly mass of plastic in just 5 years! They use a specific method in which they locate the places in the patch where the greatest concentrations of plastic lie, and then form a ring around it. This ring creates a downward flow so that marine life can safely pass beneath it while all the plastic is cleaned
Overall, it is clear that humans have quite abruptly shaken the planet’s natural ecosystems, and not in a positive way. Plastic pollution is the silent assassin of our civilization, as we know it. However, charities such as the Ocean Cleanup deserve our utmost help and gratitude.