What do body wash, packing materials, fleece clothing, toothpaste, industrial scrubbers, and tires have in common? Each of these products – along with hundreds more – either contain or break down into tiny particles of plastic over their lifetimes. Cosmetic companies have been in the middle of controversy for the past several years over their use of plastic microbeads, a manufactured microplastic used in a variety of facial scrubs and exfoliants.
So what are microplastics, exactly? Microplastics are tiny particles of plastic debris, usually smaller than one millimeter in width. Microplastics are a huge environmental threat to marine life. Studies performed on fish have demonstrated that exposure to these plastics leads to stunted growth and altered behavioral patterns, such as ignoring the smell of predators and choosing to eat plastics over their primary food source (zooplankton).
But there is hope. Marc Ward of Sea Turtles Forever, as seen in the above video, realized a solution was imperative. Marc has invented a unique tool to combat this problem: a human-powered electrostatic screen that can remove tiny plastic bits from beaches. Marc is native to Oregon, where many beaches are hard hit by microplastics every winter. Because the plastics concentrate in a relatively small portion of Oregon’s beaches, it could be possible with enough volunteers to clean the beaches. But this isn’t just an issue for Oregon, this is a global environmental issue – and luckily, Marc’s electrostatic screens are in use from Canada, all the way to Australia!
If you’re interested in filtering microplastics on your beach, please visit Sea Turtles Forever for more information. And please share this post with your friends and family and urge them to cut back on products that have microplastics, join One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign to learn more. Together, we can make a difference!