What is ocean plastic waste

Short. Five points when experts explain the problem of plastic pollution in the sea

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

When experts explain the plastic pollution crises a few things stand out: They just realized recently that there is such a thing, now it is everywhere – and everywhere is even inside of us… and it is getting worse – but they need to study it more

Only a few years back nobody had imagined that scientists would soon find tiny bits of plastic everywhere and in large quantities. Even on the poles and in our blood vessels.

Now the scientists are trying to map the plastic pollution challenge, and as the use of plastic is exploding and 8.000.000 more tons of plastic gets dumped into the oceans every year, mapping it is like mapping a burning house – The situation changes faster than the scientists can catch up.

Huge organisations, the EU, and other are starting to make new laws, banning more and more kinds of single use plastic and trying to get rid of all those ways our laziness have made us use plastic instead of just washing up our cup, wiping clean the plate or taking our shoes of

Here are the five things I hear most often from scientists talking about plastic pollution in the oceans:

  1. Plastic is everywhere now, and it is getting worse day by day, climate change and extreme weather flush rivers into the oceans and with it gigantic new amounts of plastics in all sizes and kinds. Plastic is washing up on shores and filling fishing nets and stomachs of all kinds of sea creatures
  2. The plastic is breaking down into tiny bits that are eaten by sea-creatures – that are eaten by larger creatures – the food chain is getting stuffed with plastic and some of it ends up inside us too – with consequences for our health ( hormones and plastics tends to confuse each other in ways we don’t yet understand )
  3. We need to monitor this situation much more. We need to collect more data about what is going on and how it evolves, to learn and understand
  4. We need to act on the plastic pollution problem now… scientists actually want us all to start re-using, recycling and to stop dumping plastic in the oceans today – it is so bad, they say we can’t wait till we have an overview, we need to act now.
  5. There are many ways of using plastics, and many kinds of plastic – Not all are equally harmful to us and other lifeforms and to the ocean. We need to look carefully at how we use plastic, mainly in two ways – for packaging and for products. Products should be made in higher quality and more biodegradable and / or easy to recycle. Packaging is maybe the worst problem. We need to use less, as in very less single use plastic, better today than tomorrow. 50 years ago we hardly used single use plastic at all, so how difficult can it be?
Scientist explain plastic waste in oceans Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Drawing – texted version – scientists about plastic waste in the oceans

Scientist explaining plastic waste in oceans. Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

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