Most of those aware of issues in environmentalism and trying to live a more sustainable way of life are well aware of the sheer scale of the problem of plastic waste. Plastic pervades every single ecosystem on earth. And even invades our own bodies. We are what we eat, and unfortunately, plastic is now extremely likely to make up a part of what we ingest – no matter how careful we are about our diets.
Micro-plastics make their way into our rivers, seas and oceans from the land – through poorly managed landfill waste, littering, what we put down our drains – from tyres on our roads, the clothes on our backs, and many other sources.
Fewer people, perhaps, are aware that what ends up in the oceans does not stay there. Many think of the oceans as the end point of plastic waste’s journey. But transported on currents, and entering the food chain, tiny plastic particles spread. Some plastic, eaten by fish and other seafood, is eaten by other creatures including of course, if we eat sea creatures, by us.
Plastic micro-particles are also cast up from the ocean in spray, and dispersed on the winds, carried back onto the land. Where they end up taking a further toll on terrestrial ecosystems.
Plastic on farm fields, spread through slurries that are spread, dispersed from the ocean, from water sources, and from roads, mean that food production is affected far beyond just seafood. Plastic on our plates is a problem. But how much of a problem micro plastic ingestion is for our health still remains to be seen.
Many solutions are proposed for cleaning up our plastic problems. But stemming the tide of plastics entering the environment in the first place is essential if we are to make sure we can avoid this unpalatable component of our meals. We need to break our reliance on plastic to stop it ending up on our plates.