How can we save our world from drowning in Microplastics?

A string of microplastics seen in a sample mof yellow sand from Latvia.

When I started taking close up photos of sand it surprised me to find thin transparent threads in the sands. At first, I thought it was something falling into the sand while preparing it but now I know. It’s microplastics. I see it in sand collected from beaches, deserts, inland or from rivers all over the world. With an untrained eye most microplastics, likely most, passes unnoticed by me. It startled me that microplastics seemed present in great amounts everywhere, in contradiction to sand which might appear to exist in infinite amounts, but in fact is scarce.

Microplastics, small pieces of plastic less than 5 mm, are found everywhere. On remote uninhabited islands, deep in ocean layers, in marine life and even in Arctic and Antarctic snow. Wind, water and ocean currents transport plastic debris across borders. It threatens ocean and marine life and with that our entire environment. 

Plastic waste, that with time breaks down to microplastics, is taking over many beaches. Former sand paradises as Hawaii’s Kamilo Beach or the uninhabited Henderson Island in the South Pacific are today more or less covered in trash and appear on lists as “the worlds trashiest beaches”. Wildlife as hermit crabs has literally moved into the trash. Plastic and microplastic pollution is a global problem and threat. On the upside we can all be a part of the solution. 

Every effort makes a difference. Baby steps as well as big leaps. 

Every piece of plastic you pick up from a beach or from anywhere in nature, even a single plastic bottle, makes a difference. And we can all do it. Daily or during special events. In September for the 34th annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) initiated by the NGO xxx over 1 million people in over 100 nations came together for a giant coast clean up. Not living close to the coast does not stop anyone from taking part. As the organisations says “no matter where you live—whether on the coast or hundreds of miles inland—all waterways lead to the ocean”

Joint efforts to stop new plastics ending up as thrash are beginning. UNEP (the UNs Environment Program) reports that 127 out of 192 reviewed countries have installed some form of legislation to regulate plastic waste. A year ago 250 organisations inc governments, NGOs and many of the world’s largest packaging producers, brands, and recyclers, signed a commitment to end plastic waste and pollution. It’s a start.

My start is a commitment to daily pick up at least one piece of trash dropped by someone else. Baby steps. What’s yours? 

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