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Plastic in the Ocean: The Real Danger

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It’s easy to notice pollution that’s near us – on the ground, in the river, on the road. But it’s harder to fathom the sorts of pollution we can’t see; those that are far away from us, or that are simply out of sight. Take the ocean for example: it’s so large and mostly invisible that it’s hard to think it could ever be overrun by pollution or litter. But there’s a disaster looming. Plastic waste in the ocean is becoming a serious problem, so much that a failure to address the issue will result in as much plastic in our oceans as fish, according to the head of the Ocean Conservancy.

Clearly, we need to act. A few quick facts about ocean plastics:

  • 80% of plastic and other ocean litter comes from land, and 20% from ships.
  • Plastics are NOT biodegradable. They will essentially stay in the ocean forever.
  • Right now, it’s estimated that there is 100 to 150 million tons of plastic in our oceans, increasing by 20 million tons a year. Compare this with 800 million tons of fish the oceans hold, and you can see how big the problem is becoming.

So what’s the danger in all this? Who cares if some plastic ends up in the vast, wide ocean? There are 2 huge problems:

  • It’s killing marine wildlife. Birds, whales, sea turtles, and fish are eating and choking on plastic pollution, often ending in death. Also, scientists are investigating the long-term impacts of toxic pollutants from plastic.
  • It’s entering the food we eat. When fish and other marine wildlife become intoxicated with plastic pollutants, those toxins enter our food chain and threaten human health.

We need to act. The single best way we can help prevent this ocean plastic epidemic is simply to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Always recycle plastics and reuse them in household projects if possible. This time, we’re not just trying to avoid the landfill – we’re trying to avoid the ocean.