Plastic Karma

January 31, 2017 11:25 am

I was watching Sky News the other day and the news anchor was surrounded by a mountain of plastic in the studio. Sky News has launched a campaign called Sky Ocean Rescue, a great initiative especially at increasing the awareness on the issue of plastics in our oceans.  I guess an example of the positive power of the press Mr Trump!

It is stated that almost 80% of plastic in the oceans started off by being discarded on land, meaning that it didn’t end up there on it’s own!  Now what happens to all this plastic?  A number of it is being eaten by animals like sea birds, turtles, fish, marine mammals which end up having plastic in their stomachs.  This will kill them as it takes the space of actual food.

But the story does not end there.  Floating plastic becomes brittle in the sunlight and then breaks down into tiny pieces, which in turn get broken down to even tinier pieces by the ocean waves.  It then becomes microplastic, and in this form it is becoming present inside all marine animals, not just birds.  So one can call this a global bad karma pay back! The plastic we are throwing away might end up again on our plates and eaten and ingested by us (well except us vegetarians actually) every time we eat fish, oysters or any marine animal.

The Mediterranean being a closed sea is more vulnerable and already has extremely high concentrations of plastics. Given that we are an island surrounded by plastic waste maybe we need to become more aware of this problem!  So I guess it’s time for us to do something.  I checked ERA’s website and the search gave me no results! From a grassroots aspect we can all do our part.  Reduce, reuse and recycle as a starter.  Avoid littering, even that little plastic straw attached to the juice pack.  For those who have boats, bring your rubbish back home! Do not use personal care products that contain microbeads. From a national point of view, we all need to talk more on this matter and raise it higher on the agenda.

For those who prefer to be visually convinced you can watch the features on Sky.

By Darryl Grima, BirdLife Malta President