Plastic accumulation in the oceans has created the eighth continent made of garbage
In recent years, trash islands have appeared floating in different parts of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. In these areas, the surface of the water is covered with garbage, especially plastic waste.
If we were to put them all together, these islands would take up an immense area: 1.4 million km² (almost three times Spain).
The trash islands are concentrated in the ocean gyres, where the marine currents rotate in circle. The largest is in the Pacific Ocean, between Japan and the west coast of the United States and Canada.
Existen 5 grandes giros oceánicos que empujan el agua hacia el centro. Esto hace que acumulen gran cantidad de plásticos, creando parches de basuras marinas. 🌎🗺️
El del Pacífico Norte por ejemplo recibe aportes de Estados Unidos y China@campusdomar @FECYT_Ciencia pic.twitter.com/VTck7Mu7AG
— Oceans of Plastics (@oceans_plastics) December 27, 2017
The most dangerous kind of waste
The floating garbage at these islands aren’t large amounts of waste like tyres or plastic bottles, but tiny waste or garbage microparticles the size of rice.
This waste is mostly polyethylene and polypropylene, coming from common objects such as supermarket bags, plastic bottles, food containers …
— ONU Medio Ambiente (@ONUMedioAmb) August 9, 2017
How has all this waste ended up in the ocean? Data is alarming: eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the sea each year. A study carried out by the prestigious scientific journal Nature found that around one million tons of it comes from rivers, especially the Asian continent.
The trash islands are just the tip of the iceberg: most of this garbage (around 70%) sinks in the depths and pollutes the bottom of the sea.
An you, what can you do to help?
A lot of people and organizations are working to change things, but there are many other things that you can do yourself to protect the oceans.
To prevent plastic from reaching the sea, the first thing we must do is to recycle or reuse bottles and packages, giving them more use. Although the most important thing is to reduce the amount of plastic we consume: we can replace it with fabric bags, glass recipients, reusable bottles
— ONU Medio Ambiente (@ONUMedioAmb) January 20, 2018
You can also support initiatives that reuse plastic. Several fashion brands try to give plastic a second life: for example, Ecoalf, whose clothes are made of recycled plastic and cotton.
Todos podemos poner nuestro grano de arena para tratar minimizar los plásticos en el medio marino. En la unidad didáctica colgada en la web, aparecen otras medidas a nivel productivo y administrativo 👍https://t.co/zIzjtzHxdc@campusdomar @FECYT_Ciencia pic.twitter.com/R7qVVDm4Cm
— Oceans of Plastics (@oceans_plastics) December 29, 2017
The NGO Plastic Oceans Fund has launched a campaign to reduce the amount of plastic waste in seas. The initiative has the support of the UN General Secretary , Antonio Gutierres… and you too can join in and contribute!