The oceans of our planet occupy most of its surface - and are of great importance. They provide habitats to countless animals and plants and are also a source of food and recreation for us humans, who are virtually "guests" on the seas. But not only that, the oceans are an essential climate subsystem of the planet, which is in constant balance with the atmosphere and has a significant share of the temperature balance.
So many good reasons to appreciate and protect the oceans. But instead they are littered. This is not primarily due to sewage or toxic waste - although these are also serious factors - but by plastic. Plastic, plastic, without end, in the truest sense of the word. Because the stuff our everyday dreams are made of is virtually indestructible.
Every minute a garbage truck plastic lands in the sea!
It seems hard to imagine, but true - every minute the contents of a garbage truck go somewhere in the sea. By now there are already 86 million tons of plastic floating in the oceans. For example, "plastic islands" have already sprung up in the Pacific, the largest of which exceeds Europe in terms of area! These include larger pieces that sink to the bottom of the sea, as well as floating pieces of plastic in which marine life can catch and agonize, or possibly eat and die from it. No less dangerous is the microplastic. Tiny particles that result from the decomposition of plastic waste, but also specifically added to other substances - we find microplastic in detergents, skin creams, scrubs, shower gels and shampoos, so they first into the sewage and eventually into groundwater, rivers and oceans reach. And from there they get into the food chain - say: on our plates.
Where does the garbage come from?
Most of the waste in the oceans is not dumped somewhere overboard. It is not that easy. Instead, plastic products, which are carted to a landfill, eventually land in the sea. Gone with the wind ... because plastic can break down into small pieces, but is virtually indestructible. Other plastic particles are created by our consumption habits. The popular cuddly fleece clothing, for example, ensures hundreds of plastic fibers in each wash, which then get into the sewage and eventually into rivers and seas. The bottom line is that anyone who uses plastic contributes to the pollution of the seas.
The consequences of pollution
The microplastic particles have long been absorbed by all living things in the oceans. And so they eventually end up on our plates. Microplastics has been detected not only in marine life, but also recently in human stool samples. So the problem that starts in our households returns to us.
Although plasticizers, considered to be so toxic in the past, are now banned within the EU, they continue to circulate through imports from third countries, remain in use and end up in the sea. The long-term consequences are not yet foreseeable.
What can be done - what is being done?
The plastic waste that is already floating in the oceans is unfortunately in international waters. Thus, no country feels called upon to take action here, even though there are strategies worldwide for at least monitoring coastal waters and their use.
Hope is given to projects such as the technology of the Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, who is dedicated to the purification of the oceans. "The Ocean Cleanup Project" is to collect plastic waste and recycle it. An integration into the filter systems of ships is already thought.
But the main source of plastic waste is every single consumer. And here you can really do a lot. Most plastic products in our everyday life are neither vital nor pretty and can be replaced by meaningful alternatives.
Tips for everyday life without plastic
- Shopping with the net or a cloth bag
- Use tin, glass and ceramic containers instead of plastic wrap
- Fresh produce in the market rather than packaged industrial food
- Do not use disposable products such as plastic plates or spoons
- Avoid plastic toys for children
- Drinks best from glass bottles
- Drink tap water instead of water from plastic bottles - it's often of better quality anyway
Support meaningful initiatives!
If you live near a coast, you can spend time to help with a beach cleanup. As we do not all live within sight of the oceans, there is also the possibility of supporting projects such as "seas without plastic" through donations. Just as effective is the Take3 initiative - this is about taking three pieces of waste with you each time you visit the beach. If everyone does, it will have an enormous reach!
The best is and remains - avoid plastic. Anyone who thinks about their everyday consumption not only helps to keep our blue planet clean, but gives itself a better quality of life!