Micro-plastics in our Marine Waters

At an ever-increasing rate, our marine waters, which are mandatory to the survival of all marine species,

and the human race, let alone us divers, is becoming more and more saturated with micro-plastics.

It is now a massive problem around the globe which has spiraled out of control. Both through negligence and a ‘could not care-less’ attitude of many thousands of people.  Take a close look around our own Island, evidence is everywhere – In the country side, behind stone walls, in the sea, walk ways and cliff edges alike!

The familiar, distressing photos and videos we see, of animals and marine life being caught up in this cycle of plastic debris, is appauling.  Marine life, both large and small are dying from ingestation of plastic materials. They become entangled in plastic fibered ropes and fishing line, unable to swim or surface for air. This is a shocking situation with a huge impact on marine life, the oceans and lastly the human being.

Plastic does not degrade or decompose, imagine if it did we would have some serious stuff running out of our landfills, serious air, water and soil contamination on our hands.  Landfills that have been excavated after 40 years of use still show perfectly edible carrots, lying next to newspapers over 40 years old. Due to no air, sunlight or moisture deep down, nothing degrades in these mountains of garbage.

Micro-plastics come from a variety of sources. Often larger plastic pieces that have broken apart, get ground down through water movement into small plastic particals. Resin pellets are used in plastic manufacturing, micro-beads, which are small manufactured plastic beads are used in health and beauty products, cosmetics and toothpaste.  Micro-beads are made of polyethylene plastic which is added to ex-foliants, shampoo, lipstick and lotions. Check out your bathrooms and kitchens, they are full of it.

The Micro-plastic (exfoliates), that we spread on our skin gets washed down the drain, on a day to day basis. The problem lies here; the micro-plastic beads are so small, the sewage filters and systems do not restrict it from passing through. It lands directly into our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers. From there, it is ingested from bottom feeders, many marine species and, the fish that you eat from your fish and chip shop!

The Industry produces more than 100 million tons of plastic per year, just to keep us on ‘The Go’. Most of it is used less than 5 minutes, then discarded or just thrown away.  Coffee on the GO is not the only thing that has plastic lids, we also have salads, soups, desserts, sushi and plastic knives and forks.

Not long ago, packaging used to be made from styropore and we had deposit bottles. Now we have plastic tea bags, a combination of fork and spoon together, sugar stirrers and many more, all made of plastic. This adds to the ever-increasing mountain of NON BIO-DEGRADABLE PLASTIC…. there is not such a thing!

Each year, over 311 Million Tons of plastic are produced each year, tendency rising. Most of it goes to the packaging industry and supermarkets for the use of plastic bags for consumers. The packaging industry uses plastic for almost everything it produces. You buy organic tomatoes laid in a plastic box or form, chocolate is not only packed once, often 3 times in small mouth sized pieces. Why is this,  maybe we have forgotten how to chew!  Plastic covers most of our fruit and vegetables.  Carrots, cucumbers and mushrooms are pre-wrapped, the plastic we throw away as soon as it arrives home.

In Hawaii, scientists have found a new type of Geo-stone called ‘Plastiglomerat’. Its substance consists of not only Lava and Sand, but most of it is melted plastic deposits. So-called, degradable Bio-plastic is so far from the truth, there is no plastic to date that is completely degradable. Neither in our household composts, organised bio-degradable collections or in the free natural world….it does not decompose!

Maybe it is time to put our hands up and try to do something about the mountain of plastic that we use. Why not take a ruck sack or basket to bring back the shopping? Use paper bags rather than buying reusable plastic ones, they do not degrade after you throw them away. Purchasing fruit and vegetables that are pre-packed in plastic is  avoidable. Use thermos cups or drink your coffee in peace, at the table rather than using plastic throw away commodities.  Preferable buy cosmetic products that do NOT contain PP- Polypropylene or PE- Polyethylene.  Check out the Smartphone App ‘Beat the Microbead’ for more information on plastic and help make a difference to our planet and oceans. Or come and join us in a PADI Dive for Debris excursion and gain your PADI Certificate now at http://www.divesmartgozo.com/get-my-padi/aware-dive-debris/

You can find more information now on this global problem, click on the link,  it is packed with information for everyone!

https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/photo_guide.pdf