Photo: Chris Jordan
Artist Chris Jordan is making a documentary about Laysan albatrosses on Midway Atoll and their plastic problem. Watch the trailer
Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise.Tablet of Wisdom, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh
February 2021, Christine Muller
All the plastic we use ends up in the environment. “You may think a lot of plastic gets recycled and made into new products, but in fact, most does not. Only nine percent of the plastic ever made has been recycled, and another 12 percent has been incinerated. Scientists estimate that around 9 million tons of plastic make their way from land into the sea every year. That’s like dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute.” (1)
Over time, plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. These small plastic pieces are called “micro-plastics”. Other kinds of micro-plastics are purposefully manufactured for use in cosmetics and industrial processes. Synthetic clothing such as polyester and nylon also release large quantities of microfibers when we wash them. Most of that plastic pollution ends up in the oceans. In many places of the world, micro-plastics constitute a larger part of marine plastic pollution than the enormous amount of visible larger pieces of plastic.
According to a study (2), micro-plastics have been found in all forms of marine life from zooplankton to whales. They have also been found in table salt, honey, sugar, and beer as well as in our drinking water, both in bottled and tap water samples. While the health effects of the toxins from plastic on humans are still unknown, we know that plastic pollution is a major cause of the decline of seabirds such as albatrosses and shearwaters because they feed in the open ocean and mistake the floating plastic for food and even feed it to their chicks! They then die of stomach injury or starvation. We can all help by reducing our plastic use.
(1) Source: Ocean plastic pollution is a problem we can solve, Monterey Bay Aquarium: When you visit its website you will find more information about plastic pollution including micro-plastic.
(2) Kontrick, A.V. Microplastics and Human Health: Our Great Future to Think About Now. J. Med. Toxicol. 14, 117–119 (2018).