By: I. Etlin
Plastic has become such a significant part of our lives, present in so many aspects of our lives. We use it without even knowing, due to its efficiency. However, it is Earth’s biggest villain, polluting magnificent places, destroying the environment and murdering the unique fauna and flora. One of the biggest sustainable problems found today is the plastic islands found in the oceans. Right now, there is five known offshore plastic islands in the world’s ocean, the largest one is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) located in the pacific between Hawaii and California.
The GPGP is estimated to have 1.6 million km2 of area, just to visualize better the size of this massive island is three times the size of France and twice the size of Texas state! This is caused by the accumulation of 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year and due to the currents in the ocean which leads to this dangerous amount of plastic to meet at a certain point in the ocean. In the case of the GPGP it is estimated to have 80,000 tonnes of plastic (weight equivalent to 500 jumbo jets) floating aimlessly in the middle of the pacific. This is also equal to 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, moreover some of this plastic are from the 1970s or even the 1950s, since it takes 450 years for a single piece of plastic to decompose.
This extreme concentration of plastic in the middle of nowhere is constantly affecting the fauna and flora of the ocean and even humans. Since plastic varies from shape, size and colour the marine wildlife often mistakes it for food, this might lead to changes in behaviour, attitude and their ultimate death. 17% of species affected by plastic is considered as threatened species. Furthermore, since human nutrition involves consuming sea life (for example: sushi and fish fillet), most of the fishes used for food have been affected by chemicals found in plastics. These chemicals make their way up the food chain and ultimately affecting humans.
Overall, plastic is a dangerous material for every single organism in the world and as seen before has disastrous consequences on certain species. I believe that we should take action and try to limit your plastic consumption, for example try to limit the use of plastic straws (not that useful), reuse plastic bottles and try to recycle plastic as much as possible.