Guide to Marine Plastic Pollution
Plastic can be found in many of the items that people use on a daily basis. Despite the benefits that make it popular, the overuse of plastic is taking a heavy toll on the environment, particularly the ocean. For many years, throwing away a plastic bottle was done with little thought, and even today, many people routinely toss away plastic goods such as straws, utensils, or bags without considering what happens to them. Many of these items make their way into rivers and eventually the ocean, where they leach chemicals into the water that harm both human and animal health. For instance, fish are exposed to these toxins and ingest them, and then people who eat the fish are also exposed to these chemicals. Over time, this can cause problems such as birth defects or cancer. Plastics such as bottles, netting and straps, soda rings, and pellets further threaten wildlife in a number of ways. Seabirds, for example, often consume plastic, which they may inadvertently feed to their young, harming or killing them in the process. And sea turtles and other marine life frequently become trapped and tangled in plastic debris, which can cause suffocation, starvation, lacerations, and death.
Plastic debris in the ocean can accumulate in gyres or circulating ocean currents. This debris attracts other marine pollutants and continues to grow as more plastics make their way into the gyre, creating large marine trash vortexes. The largest of these is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is located in the North Pacific Ocean and is currently estimated at three times the size of France. Trash vortexes such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch continues to grow in size because most types of plastic are non-biodegradable: When a plastic bottle is tossed into the water, it cannot be transformed over time into a harmless state by natural means. Instead, it may break into smaller pieces of plastic called microplastics that remain a part of the vortex. Fortunately, the more people understand plastic ocean pollution, the more chances there are that action will be taken to reduce it.
Learn all about marine plastic pollution and the problems that it creates by visiting this page on the Clean Water Action website.
Click this link to read about the deadly impact of plastic pollution on marine animals.
There's a lot to learn about plastic pollution, and this page on the EcoWatch website can help educate people about 22 related facts.
Everyone can do their part in reducing plastic pollution, and this infographic provides seven simple actions that can help.
UNESCO provides a list of marine pollution facts and figures here.
In this video, 17 students from Hawaii study the impact of plastic pollution in the ocean, with an emphasis on the state's high use of Styrofoam.
The U.S. Department of State website features an article that discusses the challenges associated with marine pollution, including plastics, and what the necessary steps forward are.
People who click this link will learn about marine debris, how it ends up in gyres, and what the potential solutions are.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers this page on the plastic pollution problem in oceans to help explain its cycle, what you can do, and what they are doing to reduce and prevent it.
Click on this link to the BBC website to learn about ocean plastic and why the UN considers it a crisis for the entire planet.
It's hard to imagine how plastic from one's home ends up in the ocean, but this article helps to explain not only how it gets there but also how it threatens marine life and what's being done about it.
Plastics in the ocean is the topic of discussion on this page, which includes information on plastic islands, sources of plastic toxins, and plastics impacting human and animal health.
Read this NPR article about a four-year study on how the millions of tons of plastic that end up in the ocean on an annual basis are harming coral reefs.
Parents and kids who visit this page can learn about plastic polluting the ocean and how to turn the tide and keep the ocean cleaner.
Learn how plastic threatens seabirds by reading this article on the Imperial College London website.
Click this link to the National Resource Defense Council website to read the ten ways that it suggests people can help to reduce plastic pollution.
This Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health resource cites statistics regarding plastic and discusses how its use is negatively impacting the oceans and human health.
People who visit this website can read how plastics are filling the ocean with waste and the deadly consequences it has on both humans and animals.
On this page, site visitors will find information on the problem with plastic, the waste it produces, and how it affects the ocean.
Click this link to the University of California website to read about plastic waste, including how much of it makes it into the ocean and the impact it has on more than 600 species of marine life.
Visit this page on the NOAA website to watch a video explaining the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
CNN presents a report about birds eating plastic and how the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing faster than expected.
Anyone interested in learning about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can click this link to read a National Geographic article and look through the slide show.
Learn more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and its growth.
According to this article, more than 87,000 tons of plastic is clogging the Pacific Ocean, representing a major threat to marine life and birds.