Let's Get **IT Out of Our Oceans
So much plastic
Around the world, more than one million plastic bags and more than one million plastic beverage bottles are bought every minute. That’s 20,000 of each sold per second. At its current rate, we can expect plastic production to reach a staggering 1600 billion tonnes per year by 2050.1
Right now, 330 billion pounds of plastic are contained in our oceans, with a further 17 billion pounds being added each year.2 All this plastic is not benign.
Only we humans make waste that nature can't digest.- Charles Moore, Marine Researcher
So much for plastic
Plastic doesn’t decay the same way organic material does. Food scraps, plants and wood undergo a process called biodegradation when they’re buried, which means they’re broken down by microorganisms in the soil. Once decomposed, organic matter helps the soil retain its structural integrity, protects plants from diseases and parasites, and replenishes the soil with nutrients to produce healthy plants and nutritious crops. But microorganisms don’t eat plastic.
Plastic breaks down through a process called photodegradation, which occurs when plastic is exposed to ultraviolet light. UV rays break the bonds that hold plastic molecules together, turning one big piece of plastic into a bunch of little pieces. Tiny pieces of plastic can get ever tinier, but they will always be plastic, and will never contribute to the sustainability of an ecosystem the way organic matter does. Further, as plastics break apart they release toxic chemicals, contaminating the air, land or water into which they leach, in turn contaminating the food chain.
These persistent chemical pollutants pose a threat to virtually all animals, from insects and birds to land and marine animals and of course, to humans. When it comes to the latter, we already know that petroleum fossil fuels, from which plastic is made, can significantly increase potential health risks. Exposure to petroleum fossil fuels and their products can lead to respiratory illnesses, heart disease, neurological defects, brain, liver and kidney damage, compromised immunity, endocrine dysfunction, and cancer.3 New research is showing that wildlife is similarly affected, with the added hazards of routinely getting choked and trapped or otherwise physically harmed by discarded plastic items.4
So what’s next?
The worst thing about the plastic problem is doing nothing about it. Fortunately, there is a growing movement worldwide towards finding workable solutions to mitigate the dangers of plastic to the health of our air, land and water, and all plants, animals and people– in other words, the health of our planet.
Each one of us can make a difference by reducing our own dependence on single-use plastics and seeking out plastic alternatives wherever possible. We can further build momentum towards positive change by joining with others. By getting involved with an organization, whether as a volunteer or donor, you can be part of a greater community working towards a common goal that benefits us all.
Stoolie Stool Inc. is a member of such a community. A portion of our proceeds is donated to Plastic Oceans International, a global non-profit organization committed to reducing plastic waste through education and ocean clean-up initiatives.
Together, let's MAKE **IT HAPPEN.
Learn more about Plastic Oceans International here.
Watch a preview of the documentary, A Plastic Ocean, here.
A Plastic Ocean is available for purchase on Netflix, YouTube and Amazon.
- 1 Ryan PG. (2015) A Brief History of Marine Litter Research. In: Bergmann M., Gutow L., Klages M. (eds) Marine Anthropogenic Litter. Springer, Cham
- 2 https://mvwdarrinqualman.com/global-plastics-production
- 3 https://blogarcadiapower.com/10-health-problems-fossil-fuels
- 4 https://ipen.org/news/new-repon-addresses-invisible-threat-ocean-health-dual-menace-toxic-chemical-pollutants-and