I listened to a very disturbing lecture given at the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isles, North Carolina. The lecture was given by a professor from Virginia Tech University. The professor felt that next to global warming, plastic pollution in our oceans is the greatest environmental threat facing our planet.
Shortly, it is estimated there will be more plastic in the ocean than there will be fish. The amount of floating plastic could fill up an area greater than 15 times the continental United States! Much of it has been caught in areas in the oceans where the tides circulate due to the motion of Earth and the ocean currents. These areas are far too extensive to be cleaned up manually. And there are developing countries that have no garbage collection. They also may not have water systems, so they drink bottled water. Guess where those bottles end up?
All the plastic is breaking down (which ultimately takes hundreds of years), mostly due to sun exposure. The chemicals from that breakdown are now found in all living things — even in the Arctic and Antarctic. The chemicals are disturbing animal endocrine systems and influencing reproduction. And, of course, humans consume fish.
What we can do as consumers is decrease our personal use of plastic by using reusable shopping bags and opting for products that come in biodegradable containers, such as paper. We can do simple things, such as declining plastic straws at restaurants and taking our own doggie bags (not using the styrofoam option).
This is a global problem and it will take a global effort to deal with it.
The public needs to be educated about the extent of this potentially catastrophic problem.
Nancy Briganti, Carolina Shores