You've probably heard about how plastic pollutes the environment and chokes marine life. Isn't it the worst? But what if I told you there's something worse than a piece of plastic? They're called microplastics.Aren't they the same thing? Maybe. On the other hand, microplastic is far more harmful. These tiny particles of waste, despite their small size, are wreaking havoc on our oceans. The smaller it becomes, the more of a problem you'll have, not only to the ocean life but also to you and all of us.
You've probably heard about how plastic pollutes the environment and chokes marine life. Isn't it the worst? But what if I told you there's something worse than a piece of plastic? They're called microplastics.
Aren't they the same thing? Maybe. On the other hand, microplastic is far more harmful. These tiny particles of waste, despite their small size, are wreaking havoc on our oceans. The smaller it becomes, the more of a problem you'll have, not only to the ocean life but also to you and all of us.
So what are microplastics, and where do they come from?
Microplastics are defined as "particles less than 5 mm in diameter." They can range from plastic-lined paper cups to plastic automobile parts and are either purposefully created to be that little or result from larger bits of plastic breaking down. To put it another way, "microplastic" is a general phrase that refers to a wide range of plastics, forms, and sizes. They could all have a variety of impacts on animals (including people), plants, and other species, as well as their surroundings.
It's no secret that much too much of what we use ends up in the ocean. However, you may be unaware of one big cause of pollution: our clothing. Microfibres can also be plastics, such as polyester and acrylic fibres found in clothes. So, yes, switching from single-use to reusable items is critical for reducing plastic pollution, but it will not eliminate all microplastic pollutions.
How do microplastics get into our oceans?
Microplastics enter water systems in a variety of ways. For example, they can be blown into seas, rivers, and streams or washed into them when it rains because they are small enough to become airborne. Our wastewater, such as our houses, industrial effluent, and road drainage, can also introduce microplastics into water systems.
Additionally, larger pieces of plastic put into water systems, such as those from human trash and fishing gear, may break down in the water and turn into microplastics.
What's the big deal about microplastics since they're so small?
Instead of biodegrading, plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. As more plastic enters the environment, the microplastic problem will only worsen. Plastics also take a very long time to degrade, frequently taking hundreds, if not thousands, of years to degrade, making them a long-term issue.
Microplastics can be the same size and shape as food ingested by marine wildlife, which is a big issue. They are frequently mistaken for food, causing abrasions in animals' digestive systems, lowering the quality of their nutritional intake, and filling their stomachs with plastic rather than food.
However, the physical threats of microplastics are more obvious than the chemical risks so far. Larger animals have been misled into thinking they are satisfied after eating large chunks of plastic, only to starve to death. Microplastics can also harm tiny organisms such as larval fish. They become smaller as a result of not eating enough food to grow. Because larval fish and other zooplankton constitute a crucial element of the food chain, feeding larger species and preserving their health is critical. The consequences of consuming microplastic-laden seafood on higher-ups in the food chain are currently being used being studied.
What is the best thing I can do to stop contributing to microplastic pollution?
Microplastics from the laundry are dumped directly into waterways, making it one of the most common ways people contribute to the environment. This includes making easy modifications to your laundry habits, such as washing items at lower temperatures, filling your washing machine to maximum, and using washing liquids instead of powders. Special washing-machine filters are also available. However, two broad consumer recommendations are: Purchase fewer clothes and "wash only as needed."
Now, it is evident that microplastics are not a joke. Though we may not be able to see them, they are becoming a more significant issue that can drastically impact our environment.
We will continue to lose lives if we stay silent on microplastics. However, we may combat the microplastic epidemic one step at a time through education and awareness.
Chen, Rachel. “Everything You Should Know About Microplastics—And One Small Thing You Can Do To Help”. CHATELAINE. July 15, 2019
Resnick, Brian. “More than ever, our clothes are made of plastic. Just washing them can pollute the oceans.”. The Goods by Vox. January 11, 2019
Subhankar Chatterjee and Shivika Sharma. “Microplastics in our oceans and marine health”. Field Actions Science Reports. Special Issue:19. 2019
Williams, Leoma. “Everything you need to know about microplastics”. Discover Wildlife.
“Everything You Need to Know About Microplastics in Our Oceans”. American Ocean