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!
As plastic pollution in rivers gets worse, species are increasingly living on litter
“Scientists have long warned that the world’s major rivers and estuaries are hotspots for plastic waste, as trash and microparticles wash down tributaries and congregate before entering oceans.
“Now, new research has found that as this waste accumulates, aquatic river species like insects and snails are increasingly choosing to settle on plastic rather than natural features like rocks or fallen branches.
“The findings, based on research in British rivers, are the latest evidence of how plastic waste is reshaping the world’s riverine ecosystems, both physically and behaviorally.”
Walmart, Target, and CVS team up to reinvent single-use plastic bags
“Americans throw away 100 billion single-use plastic bags a year. And so in mid-2020, some of the country’s largest retailers—including Walmart, Target, Kroger, and CVS—teamed up on the Beyond the Bag Initiative. It was an ambitious plan to fund and scale replacements to the plastic bag.
“Today, the project announced nine winners out of hundreds of entries from around the world. The solutions range from biodegradable bags that are meant to disappear into the Earth’s soil, to internet-connected bags that gamify reuse. And while the variety may sound like a cop-out—where is our one perfect replacement for the plastic bag?—our retail economy is a lot more complicated than ever before.”
Plastic in the ocean kills more threatened albatrosses than we thought
“We examined the causes of death of 107 albatrosses received by wildlife hospitals and pathology services in Australia and New Zealand and found ocean plastic is an underestimated threat. Plastic drink bottles, disposable utensils and balloons are among the most deadly items.
“Albatrosses are some of the world's most imperiled seabirds, with 73% of species threatened with extinction. Most species live in the southern hemisphere. We estimate plastic ingestion causes up to 17.5% of near-shore albatross deaths in the southern hemisphere and should be considered a substantial threat to albatross populations.”
Stanford analysis shows plastic ingestion by marine fish is a widespread and growing problem
“The consumption of plastic by marine animals is an increasingly pervasive problem, with litter turning up in the bellies of wildlife as varied as mammals, birds, turtles and fish. However, according to a research review by ecologists at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station and PhD student Alex McInturf at UC Davis, the problem is impacting species unevenly, with some more susceptible to eating a plastic dinner than others. With billions of people around the world relying on seafood for sustenance and financial security, this research, published Feb 9. in the journal Global Change Biology, warns that there is a growing number of species – including over 200 species of commercial importance – eating plastic.”
Mangroves threatened by plastic pollution from rivers, new study finds
EurekAlert! by AAAS
“Mangrove ecosystems are at particular risk of being polluted by plastic carried from rivers to the sea. Fifty-four per cent of mangrove habitat is within 20 km of a river that discharges more than a tonne of plastic waste a year into the ocean, according to a new paper published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. Mangroves in southeast Asia are especially threatened by river-borne plastic pollution, the researchers found.”
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 bad habit you change, and every pound you pull makes a difference.