THIS IS MY FATHER
Not just a filthy beach: What plastic pollution means for you
There is a LOT of plastic in the ocean. An estimated 8 million metric tons wind up there EACH YEAR according to a University of Georgia study. It’s floating around all over the place – it’s actually hard to find a beach in South East Asia without plastic trash on it (believe me, I tried. For 7 months). For that matter it’s not common to find a beach in the UK without plastic trash on it. It’s everywhere. But there are a few places where it’s concentrated in unimaginable amounts by 5 ocean currents called Gyres. Measurements cited in a review of existing literature by Halden, of the most contaminated regions of the world’s oceans, show that the mass of plastics exceeds that of plankton sixfold. It travels round and round Gyre areas with the currents, which act as a “shredder” speeding up the breakdown process whereby whole pieces of plastic get broken down to tiny particles. These microplastics remain suspended in the water column, slowly dispersing out to, well, everywhere. On their way to everywhere, stuff eats them. If you eat fish or seafood, you can be pretty sure some of those particles are inside you too (see UNEP). Professor Tamara Galloway of Exeter University, quotes research estimating that anyone consuming an average amount of seafood would ingest about 11,000 plastic particles a year. And it isn’t going anywhere – plastic takes a very long time to break down. And as it does, it releases some pretty nasty stuff.