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!
Huge, global study of plastic toys finds over 100 substances that may harm children
“The potential health risks of chemicals used in plastic toys have had scientists concerned for years, but new research reveals just how widespread the risk of harm to children remains.
“In an international study, researchers assessed the chemical compositions of toys and estimated levels of human exposure to the substances, ultimately finding over 100 "Chemicals of Concern" in plastic toy materials that could pose a non-negligible health risk to children.
“‘Out of 419 chemicals found in hard, soft, and foam plastic materials used in children toys, we identified 126 substances that can potentially harm children's health either via cancer or non-cancer effects, including 31 plasticisers, 18 flame retardants, and 8 fragrances,’ explains quantitative sustainability researcher Peter Fantke from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).
“According to the researchers, while laws in many countries regulate the use of certain potentially toxic chemicals in plastic toys, there is no consistent approach internationally, and current protections don't adequately prohibit the vast extent of potentially harmful substances that toys are made from.”
It’s not just oceans: scientists find plastic is also polluting the air
“In low-income countries, about 90% of waste ends up in open dumps or is burned in the open air. If you set fire to plastic, it rapidly reveals its origins as an oil-based product by producing copious amounts of black smoke. Using data on the contents of rubbish from around the world, researchers from London’s King’s and Imperial Colleges have estimated that the soot from open waste burning has a global warming impact equivalent to between 2% and 10% of the global emissions of carbon dioxide.”
WATCH: Fertility crisis leaves little time for solutions
Environmental Health News
“On fertility, we are running out of time. And the growing number of plastics in our lives are accelerating the crunch. That's the core message in a pair of webinars this week on humanity's infertility crisis, centered around Tuesday's publication of Count Down, a book by reproductive health expert Dr. Shanna Swan.
“Worldwide, sperm counts have declined 50 percent in males the past 50 years, Swan noted. Other key aspects of human fertility – miscarriages, testosterone levels, premature egg depletion, difficulty conceiving – are all changing at a similar rate.
“This rise in infertility, Swan said, is the fault not of genetics – ‘this is too fast for genetic change’ – but of our environment: Specifically hormone-hijacking compounds known as "endocrine-disrupting chemicals" found in everyday plastics used throughout the modern world.
Victoria bans single-use plastics by 2023 to slash amount going to landfill
“Victoria has become the third Australian jurisdiction to ban single-use plastics, including polystyrene containers, straws, cutlery, plates and plastic cotton bud sticks. On Saturday the environment minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, announced a phase-out and ban of specific single-use plastics by 2023, including at bars, cafes and restaurants, in a bid to reduce the amount of plastic waste that goes to landfill each year. The phase out and ban will not affect medical or scientific equipment, emergency services or other activities that require these types of plastics.”
OPINION: Plastic is part of the carbon cycle and needs to be included in climate calculations
“Plastic pollution and climate change are two prominent environmental issues of our time. Plastic was once thought to be a miracle invention that made life simpler for families.
“But just as our exploitation of fossil fuels led to climate change, the unsustainable use of plastic materials has led to a global environmental catastrophe. To this day, plastic pollution has infiltrated every part of our planet, from remote mountain lakes to the ocean to the very air we breathe.
“The unsustainable consumption of nonrenewable resources is the common root of both these problems, and beneath the surface, there are many links between these two issues.”
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.