You know the old adage, “out of sight, out of mind?” Well, forget about it. Especially when it comes to talking about microplastics. Microplastics are tiny, microscopic bits of plastic that are far too small to be seen by the naked eye. But, out of the 270,000 tons of plastic floating on the ocean’s surface, 90 percent of that waste is comprised of microplastics. Still having trouble putting into perspective just how much plastic that is? A recent report by the United Nations revealed that microplastics actually outnumber stars in the Milky Way galaxy — yikes. Not only that, there are deep regions of the ocean occupied by microplastics.
Even though these plastics are practically invisible, they have the huge potential to seriously damage marine ecosystems. Zooplankton, in particular, are consuming microplastics at an alarming rate. Recently, a scientist named Richard Kirby captured what it looks like when one of these little guys decides to snack on microplastic. You can check out the video here.
As the primary food source for a large spectrum of marine species, zooplankton eating microplastic is a huge problem.
Studies have shown that the plastics consumed by zooplankton can not only block the digestive tract of fish who eat them, but also leach toxins into their bodies, leading to neurological damage. Though scientists have yet to dive into the potential effects on humans who eat fish, we should still do our part to ensure that we are cutting down on plastic pollution as much as possible. While plastic is nearly impossible to avoid 100 percent of the time (kudos to those who are fully dedicated to the zero waste lifestyle), there are easy ways to reduce our impact.
By making simple switches in your life, such as never forgetting to carry a reusable shopping tote and ditching single-use water bottles and coffee cups for reusable options, you’re already doing your part to cut plastic out of the picture. These may seem like little steps, but for many, these are everyday objects, so your choice to reuse really makes a difference.
For more tips on cutting plastic out of your life, join our #CrushPlastic movement.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
Lead image source: BBC