Preventing Plastic Pollution.

We have a tendency to ignore what we can’t see, even if it surrounds us and influences our lives on a daily basis.  It seems that we get carbon dioxide/monoxide/methane pollution awareness flying at us from left, right and centre. The same with those images with penguins with plastic six pack rings around their necks; “aww no little penguin I’ll save you by not throwing my rubbish into the sea“…  Well yes that is a good plan, especially if you live next to an open body of water, however people who this doesn’t apply to (like me) tend to ignore marine pollution and think it doesn’t apply to them.

There is more than one way of plastics entering the marine environment. Plastic bags are a good example, they are light and catch the wind easily; if a breeze catches your plastic bag and it doesn’t end up caught in a tree, it is highly likely for it to end up in a water system. Rubbish gets transported around a lot, moved from place to place providing it with a lot of opportunities to flee from the peril of the rubbish truck.

But what could I possibly do to prevent this?” I hear you all desperately shouting at your screen. I personally use my old plastic bags to put rubbish in, or alternatively to add more weight to the polyethylene death trap you can tie it into a knot. Ta Dah! Your 5 years as a scout/girl guide has finally paid off and you can save the world!

One thing we are yet to learn prevent is what happens when the plastic has entered the marine environment and begins to degrade. You may have heard about microplastics before, you may not have, but they are so so frustrating. Plastics can degrade for many many years, therefore it’s a problem for many many years, microplastics are not visible to the naked human eye, and are therefore not really mentioned much. These can then be ingested by marine wildlife and emit some nasty chemicals, which aren’t beneficial to any species.

To prevent this there isn’t really much you can do, perhaps unless you’re a boffin with stacks of dosh. But there is one thing you can do! As mentioned microplastics are a result of degrading plastic, but they can also enter the water system immediately from the use of exfoliators. Some brands such as Neutrogena, Clean and Clear and Clearasil pride themselves with cosmetic products which contain “microbeads”, this is just another word for microplastic. With others you have to look at the back of the packaging, if you see a “poly….” word don’t use it, plastic shouldn’t be in an exfoliant. Instead use something natural like sugar or salt!

Any thoughts? Please let me know below.

Bethan.

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