According to research reported on by the Guardian, over 14 million tonnes of plastic less than 5mm wide are probably sitting at the bottom of oceans around the world. New research from Australia’s government science agency CSIRO came up with the estimates.
This astonishing figure means that more than 30 times as much plastic sits at the bottom of the ocean than the top. CSIRO gathered cores of the ocean floors from six different areas to come up with the estimate. The research team found that each gram of sediment had an average of 1.26 pieces of plastic in it. These smaller pieces are known as microplastics. Microplastics are less than 5mm in diameter and occur when larger plastic pieces break down into smaller and smaller pieces.
Dr. Denise Hardesty, a principal research scientist at CSIRO and a co-author of the research published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, told the Guardian that finding plastics at the bottom of the ocean, “means it’s throughout the water column. This gives us pause for thought about the world we live in and the impact of our consumer habits on what’s considered a most pristine place. We need to make sure the big blue is not a big trash pit. This is more evidence that we need to stop this at the source.”
Scientists continue to be concerned with the ubiquity of plastics found in the ocean. Read more about microplastics and plastic affecting marine life in One Green Planet, including sea turtles eating plastic, microplastics found in human tissue, and plastic found in Indonesia at high levels.
There are products you may be using or habits you may have that contribute to plastic pollution. Learn more about how the use of Teabags, Cotton Swabs, Laundry, Contact Lenses, Glitter, and Sheet Masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions going forward. There are also numerous simple actions and switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including, making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners, using mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, and avoiding microbeads!
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