How does plastic waste actually get into the sea?
The fact that more and more waste is ending up in the oceans is no longer news to any of us. But what's so bad about plastic in the ocean and how does it actually get there?
About ⅔ of the earth's surface is covered with water. And these very seas are now among the dirtiest places in the world. You may have also heard that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish - if nothing is done to stop littering.
Why is plastic in the sea harmful?
Not only does the water quality suffer from the plastic, but especially the underwater world. And in the long term, we humans too.
Fish and other sea creatures often mistake plastic for food. For example, turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and fish swallow small plastic particles because they mistake them for plankton. As a result, the animals not only starve. The indigestible parts damage the animals' stomachs and other internal organs.
The fact that the animals suffer so much should actually be reason enough to want to do something about plastic waste. However, some people only seem to really think about it when they learn that this type of waste disposal could also have consequences for themselves. The tiny plastic particles that the fish swallow are of course eaten when the fish are eaten and thus also enter our organism. It is not yet known what long-term consequences this may have. Nevertheless, we all know intuitively that it definitely can't be good for our bodies.
How does trash end up in the ocean?
80% of plastic waste enters the oceans via inflows from land.
Plastic bottles and packaging carelessly thrown away:
They are washed into the sea via canals and rivers.
The drains in our home:
No matter whether microparticles in toothpaste, shower gel or contact lens cleaner – sooner or later they all end up in the oceans.
Plastic particles from the washing machine:
Synthetic fiber textiles lose a lot of tiny fibers when washed. And because they are so small, they don't get stuck anywhere but end up in the ocean unhindered.
Plastic waste from open dumps is blown away by the wind and ends up in the ocean. Here we are not talking about isolated pieces of plastic, but about tons (!) of plastic waste.
This is actually obvious, but it's worth remembering at this point: the more plastic is produced and consumed, the more it ultimately ends up in the oceans.
The remaining 20% comes directly from shipping and fishing. Equipment such as fishing nets is sometimes deliberately disposed of in the sea. This not only leads to more plastic in the water but also to fish getting caught in these devices and dying.
How bad is the situation and how is the waste distributed in the oceans?
You can speak in different pictures: A truckload of plastic ends up in our oceans every minute. There are up to 46,000 pieces of plastic waste floating in every square kilometer of sea. Or to go back to our initial picture: by 2050 there will be more pieces of plastic floating in the sea than fish.
What we can see is just the tip of the iceberg. Because more than 70% of garbage sinks to the seabed. 15% floats on the surface and 15% washes up on shores. Therefore, the plastic in the sea cannot simply be fished out. In addition, in the worst case scenario, plastic only breaks down after several hundred years. Before that, the plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller particles and thus becomes microplastics.
In short: the situation is more than alarming.
What can we do?
As already indicated: garbage that is not produced does not end up in the sea. Unfortunately, we cannot (literally) solve the problem overnight.
It's even nicer to know that you can still do something about it yourself. By avoiding (plastic) waste. In this blog article you will find simple tips that you can use to reduce your plastic consumption in everyday life.
You can also make a positive contribution by helping to educate those around you. In this way you are helping more and more people become aware of the problem. For example, feel free to forward and share this post; I would be very happy about that.
If you liked this and would like to learn more about healthy eating, mindfulness or sustainability, check out many other exciting blog articles on these topics here .
My sources were:
Before I introduce you to body scan meditation, I would like to briefly explain what meditation actually is. Meditation is a mindfulness technique with which you can learn to direct your focus a...Read more
Summer is not just the high season for fruit. Some types of vegetables are only now shining in their full glory and have a much more intense aroma than during the rest of the year. Nevertheless, w...Read more
Before I introduce you to breathing meditation, I would like to briefly explain what meditation is. Meditation is a mindfulness technique with which you can learn to direct your focus and consc...Read more