“Despite the publicity about huge garbage patches in the sea, most of the ocean’s plastic isn’t big — our castaway shopping bags and soda bottles get weakened by sunlight and torn apart in the wind and the waves into little bits of plastic confetti.
“On the micro-scale, though, it’s still super durable — the microorganisms that decompose ripped-up bits of wood and seaweed down into simpler organic compounds can’t easily digest plastic.
“So while the plastic confetti gets broken into smaller pieces, it doesn’t go away – it just spreads out over time. Which is why we’ve found “microplastics” pretty much everywhere in the oceans, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and from the seafloor to the surface.”
MinuteEarth: Ocean Confetti, how our plastic trash gets broken down into minuscule bits called micro-plastics.
So what can we do to help? Pair the above with this informative video from the NRDC: Stop Marine Plastic Pollution.
We all need to do our fair share to stop plastic pollution: individuals need to recycle and never litter, but producers of single use plastic packaging need to do more too. We need producers to design packaging so that it is fully recyclable, and so there is less waste. We also need producers to help cover the costs of keeping their products out of the ocean.
Here are ten really easy ways to reduce plastic pollution:
1. Stop using bottled water – In most cases it is no safer than tap water and costs 3 times as much gasoline and 1,000 times as much as tap water
2. Bring your own reusable grocery bags with you when you go to the store
3. Use a refillable dispenser for your hand soap and dish washing liquid, one large bottle is better than using a bunch of small ones
4. Use a reusable container instead of sandwich bags
5. Bring your own to-go mug with you to the coffee shop
6. Say no to single serving packaging, buy in bulk and share with friends instead
7. Use silverware instead of plastic utensils, keep a set at the office, bring a set on a picnic or to the beach
8. Download your music instead of buying CD’s
9. Seek out items that are not made of plastic
10. Avoid plastics that are not readily recyclable -#3(pvc), #4(ldpe), #5(pp), #6(ps), #7 (other)
• Ocean Plastics Academy: A variety of curriculum resources—multimedia and hands-on activities—for ages 5-16.
• TRASH TALK webinar: This video demonstration for teachers shares activities for all ages, part of NOAA’s World Ocean Day series.
• Engineering A Fix For The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a grade 6-8 Science Friday activity.
• Mapping Ocean Currents, a grade 3-8 activity from National Geographic
• Follow the Friendly Floatees, a grade 6-8 activity from National Geographic
Bonus: A video with yet another solution to our plastic problem: Compostable packaging made from mushrooms.
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