In attempt to wake fellow humans from our coma of plastic co-dependence, I encourage everyone to watch this film. I have also summarised the following facts on the critical stage of health in our coeans.
Summary of ‘Drowning in plastic’ documentary
Kim Shipton 30/12/20
- Globally, we buy 1million plastic bottles, 1million plastic cups and two million plastic bags, PER MINUTE.
- Every minute an entire truckload of plastic rubbish ends up in the ocean. This equals 8 million tons per annum.
- Globally, only 15% of plastic is recycled.
- It is estimated that annual plastic manufacturing by 2050 will increase by 500%
- 50% of plastic in oceans comes from river systems. It’s estimated that 2 billion people across the globe have no access to proper waste management. They have no choice but to dispose waste on their doorsteps or into river systems. (Until last year, Australia shipped the majority of their plastic to developing countries to sort and recycle).
- Wealthy global brands are accused of knowingly selling products to developing countries that have no way of disposing the packaging.
- The fishing industry puts more plastic into the ocean than any other industry. Over a million tons of plastic fishing line or gear is lost or dumped at sea per annum. The devastation to non-fished sea life (from whales, turtles, sea lions etc) who become entangled in this plastic is immeasurable. (You only need to follow your local sea rescue organization to see how much damage plastic is causing from both ingestion and entanglement).
- Every piece of plastic that has entered the ocean is still there. It takes 450 years to degrade in ocean (1000 years on land).
- Plastic has been found in the Marianas trench at a depth of 7 miles.
- Scientists have found that the Arctic Circle has one of the highest levels of Mircoplastics in the world; a location which is so remote and known for its pristine environment. This waste mostly comes from Northern Europe and destroys a vital ecosystem already under threat by global warming. It is estimated that there is 1 trillion tons of micro plastic floating near the ocean surface across the globe. Micro fibres leave synthetic clothing when laundered which ends up in waterways. They also come from car tyres and micro beads in personal hygiene products. All of these exist in our food chain.
- The pristine reserve of Lord Howe Island houses the largest colony of Flat Footed Shearwater birds, which migrate there to raise their young. 12 years ago, scientists measured up to 10 pieces of plastic in the stomach of each juvenile bird tested. Parents source food from the ocean to feed their young. Plastic is accidentally selected due to algae growing on the plastic surface which is mistaken for fish, crustaceans and plankton…perhaps natural food sources are also in decline. Today, scientists are measuring 30-40 pieces of plastic per juvenile bird (their stomachs are pumped for testing). Often this species dies painfully and without reaching maturity. That is only one species of bird.
- In the Coral Triangle (2.3 million miles of coral reefs which act as a nursery for endless species), the coral is both stressed by Global Warming and is dying from plastic smothering. A scientist has discovered that lethal doses of bacteria are being transported on the surfaces of plastic that smother reefs (bacteria thrive on the textured surface of plastics). Vibrio bacteria are commonly found on the plastic; one strain of which causes Cholera and causes disease in corals, shrimp, oysters etc. This phenomenon has only been recently discovered. It raises a question of what other diseases can be transported this way and what impact this has on sea and human life. Plastic found on corals has a likelihood of causing disease in corals by 89%. (To note, seagrasses can reduce harmful bacteria by 50% through their own source of natural antibiotics which can help save reefs. Seagrass also traps plastics from land before it reaches reefs. It is vital that Seagrass grows prolifically and is not farmed or destroyed).
It is safe to assume that today, every living sea creature has ingested plastic and that most sea creatures will face plastic obstruction in their lifetime.
Scientists say that humans are also ingesting plastics through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. If we don’t stop plastic production today, it is unthinkable what short future lies ahead.