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The Oceanic story

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Microplastics and our environment


It’s practically everywhere… from the shops we visit to the restaurants we order our food from, and worse still, it has managed to slowly sneak into our water and food. What is this, you may ask? The answer is simple: it’s plastic.

 

When all this plastic degrades, it breaks down into tiny particles or microplastics, which can then contaminate what we eat and drink. A study conducted by the University of Newcastle, Australia [Ed1] has estimated that, on average, people are consuming as much as 5 grams of microplastics every week – that’s the same as eating a credit card!

We still don’t fully understand how microplastics will impact our health, but it’s clear that we need to snap out of our throwaway culture. Every minute of every day, a truckload of plastic is discarded into our oceans. It’s time to #BreakFreeFromPlastic


Even the phrase ‘throwaway culture’ is a problem – there is no ‘away’, and now these plastics are coming back to haunt us. Packaging that gets used just once is finding its way into the sea, being worn down into microplastics, and showing up in what should be a natural, healthy product: sea salt.


A 2017 study* showed the extent of microplastics contamination. Researchers tested 16 sea salt brands from eight countries and found a total of 72 contaminant particles, of which almost half were confirmed as ocean plastic.


*Karami, A., Golieskardi, A., Keong Choo, C. et al. The presence of microplastics in commercial salts from different countries. Sci Rep 7, 46173 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/srep46173

Oceanic Plastics
Oceanic Plastics

For now, the concentration of the particles found in sea salt and seafood is low enough that it likely won’t affect your health. That could change, however, unless we get over our addiction to single-use plastics.


Microplastics get consumed by smaller ocean organisms, which are then eaten by the fish that we ourselves eat, like tuna and salmon. If mercury concentrations weren’t enough to show us the consequences of ocean pollution, then this should definitely give us food for thought.

Oceanic Pollution