Once in a while, we like to take a virtual trip around the world to check in on some of the stories related to the ocean plastic crisis that are making news. This can be anything from research that shows how pervasive the problem is, to new ways of thinking about the plastic cycle, or some of the negative impacts ocean plastic pollution is having on species and habitats. Also, wherever we can, we like to recognize people or organizations making positive progress in the effort to curb the plastic pollution problem for future generations.
These stories are ripped from the headlines and just waiting for us to take a closer look. Let's go!
How did the pandemic affect ocean conservation?
“Clickbait stories of happy animals returning to suddenly quiet habitats paint an overly rosy picture of COVID-19’s impact on the marine environment. The reality is much more complicated.”
Airborne plastic pollution ‘spiralling around the globe,’ study finds
“Microplastic pollution is now “spiralling around the globe”, according to a study of airborne plastic particles.
“The researchers said human pollution has led to a global plastic cycle, akin to natural processes such as the carbon cycle, with plastic moving through the atmosphere, oceans and land. The result is the ‘plastification’ of the planet, said one scientist.”
Could plastic-eating mushrooms solve humanity’s plastic problem?
“From being used as construction material to biofuel, mushrooms hold incredible potential and could potentially aid humanity in getting rid of a problem that's been brewing for decades: Plastic.
“Since the mass production of plastics began in the 1950s, humans have created 9 billion tons of plastic, and this creates a crisis that's not easy to tackle since plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade. Those used by the people of the '60s still exist in some form, and with only 9 percent recycled, only 12 percent has been incinerated
“This has [led] scientists to search for alternative methods for plastic reduction, and one solution that could aid humanity might be hidden in fungi. Scientists have discovered mushrooms that eat plastic over the years: Some mushroom species have the ability to consume polyurethane, which is one of the main ingredients in plastic products.”
How far does trash travel down the Mississippi? Scientists put GPS in plastic bottles to find out
“Scientists are placing GPS devices inside plastic bottles to study how trash enters the watershed and travels downstream, with the ultimate goal being to reduce pollution in rivers and oceans. The initiative was launched Saturday in Baton Rouge, the first of three cities participating in a pilot program that involves tracking several bottles on their journeys toward the Gulf of Mexico.”
Starbucks is starting to work toward ditching disposable coffee cups
“A pilot in Seattle will offer customers reusable mugs. In South Korea, the company will phase out single-use cups entirely.”
Java’s mangroves pay a high price for stopping plastic flowing out to see
Monga Bay News
“Mangroves are known to trap plastic waste and stop it entering the sea, but this defense comes at a high cost to mangrove forests themselves, a new study shows.
“Researchers working in Indonesia’s Central Java province found plastic carpeting half of the mangrove floor across their study area, covering roots and sediment layers and starving the trees of oxygen.
“The plastic accumulation could also harm mollusks, crabs and other soil-dwelling organisms forming the coastal food web’s foundations, which could trigger cascading impacts for larger animals.
“The study authors called for a reduction in plastic waste through education and policies such as bans on single-use plastic packaging.”
Plastic pollution disproportionately hitting marginalized groups, UN environment report finds
“Vulnerable communities disproportionately bear the brunt of environmental degradation caused by plastics pollution, and action is urgently needed to address the issue and restore access to human rights, health and well-being, according to a new UN report published on Tuesday.
“The report, entitled, Neglected: Environmental Justice Impacts of Plastic Pollution, was produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) together with the grassroots environmental group, Azul. The findings aim to empower communities affected by plastic waste and advocate for their inclusion in local decision making.”
How to help: Take steps to reduce your plastic footprint
Plastic pollution is a complex issue and there is no one single action that’s going to change the tide. Ending this global crisis will require lots of small actions from lots of people every single day.
Every time you shop 4ocean, you’re investing in the future of our planet by funding the removal of trash that’s already polluting our oceans, rivers, and coastlines, while supporting the research, innovation, technology, advocacy, and education initiatives we invest in to help prevent more plastic from entering our oceans.
Small acts add up, which means every piece of single-use plastic you refuse, every habit you change, and every pound you pull makes a difference.