There is an astonishing amount of plastic floating around in the Hudson River Estuary – 165,840,512 particles are in the water at any given time. The particles make their way into the digestive systems of wildlife, fish and birds and it’s fair to assume that a good number of them end up in our bodies too.
What you see in this amazing video all takes place inside of one drop of water: for the first time, plankton have been filmed eating plastic. This is part of the story of how people end up eating plastic too. Microscopic plankton eat even smaller fluorescent particles of plastic that fill up their digestive systems. Sometimes the particles stay in their system for days, making survival and reproduction difficult for them. When they get eaten by bigger sea life, the plastic gets lodged in those creature’s intestines and then they get eaten too. Eventually, people eat sea life that contains plastic, so we end up eating it too.
Where does all that plastic come from?
Cosmetic and healthcare products that have a scrubbing quality like exfoliating soaps and toothpaste use plastic microbeads that wash into drains and out to large bodies of water. Natural products could be used, but they mostly aren’t.
Then, there’s the island of plastic debris floating in our oceans – tons of the stuff – that breaks into tinier and tinier particles as pieces are hit by the sun and jostle against each other, and then against rocks and sand as they move around the ocean waters. Plastic breaks into tiny pieces but doesn’t disappear, and now we know that plankton eat it.
Hat tip to Theresa Lam for the share!
A 21 year old inventor has designed a miles-long filter that will remove the many tons of plastic debris in our oceans … and convert it to usable products, like oil. The storm-resistant equipment will be powered by solar panels and the project will launch next year, in 2016.
Marine life will float right through the filters. Because there are no nets, “entanglement will be virtually impossible,” Slat comments. His Ocean Cleanup team proposes to eliminate about half of the ocean’s floating island of plastic.
Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup and a native of the Netherlands, offers this comment on the value of his project:
“Taking care of the world’s ocean garbage problem is one of the largest environmental challenges mankind faces today. Not only will this first cleanup array contribute to cleaner waters and coasts but it simultaneously is an essential step towards our goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This deployment will enable us to study the system’s efficiency and durability over time.
Watch Slat describe the journey of conceiving and designing his world-saving invention.
What you can do: help keep plastic out of waterways.
We do this, friends. Drink bottled goo and throw the packaging away into the environment for it to end up in fish and birds’ stomachs. And then, these gorgeous creatures die agonizing deaths for which we are responsible.
Well, do you know that we have the power to stop this too? We can go back to water, to pure fruit juices. Make our own iced tea and drink it from reusable bottles. Give up on plastics. Embrace recycling when that’s impractical. Be a good world steward …
Your children, your great, great grandchildren … and mine … they will all thank you.