It’s no secret that ocean plastic is a global problem. Currently, 14 million tons of microplastic lies at the bottom of the world’s seas. That figure doesn’t even include how many whole pieces of plastic enter global waterways every year. This issue is immeasurable in many ways.
However, not all plastics are equal, since some are worse than others for marine life. Take a look.
1. Plastic Bags
These objects are the most harmful plastics for every marine creature. That’s likely because they contain flexible films. This material can often seem translucent, so fish, turtles and other ocean residents might mistake plastic bags for food.
Plastic bags can take approximately 1,000 years to decompose, so when they enter ocean ecosystems, they infiltrate the places where marine creatures find food. Plastic bags could get caught in windpipes and other parts of the body — and that proves deadly.
The best way to become part of the solution is to stop using plastic bags. Instead, you should only use reusable alternatives. A few durable canvas bags will last longer, anyway. Do your best to eliminate plastic bags in every aspect of your life.
2. Fishing Debris
The fishing industry is responsible for a large amount of plastic in the ocean. Boats discard items like nets and lines during operations. Those objects end up as part of the estimated 12 million plastics that enter our oceans every year.
This trash is a death sentence for larger animals. Take seals as an example. These creatures can quickly become tangled in the garbage that comes from ships. Additionally, it’s harder for animals that ingest plastic to swim well. They’re then at risk of running into boats.
The answer, in this case, is to reform operations. Boats and ships can’t be completely eco-friendly. In other words, there’s always going to be waste. That’s why legislation matters. For example, if we can incentivize workers to properly dispose of nets, they’ll be more inclined to do so.
3. Plastic Bottles
How many plastic bottles do you use? These containers consist of hard plastics that can prove deadly for all marine life, but they’re especially fatal for seabirds. Just think about how often these specific animals come into contact with plastic bottles on beaches.
You can help by reducing plastic bottle usage at home. Take a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go. You can also drink your coffee from a thermos. That way, you won’t find yourself contributing to the problem by buying unnecessary plastic containers.
4. Ropes and Rubber
It’s not often that ropes and rubber find their way into the ocean — but they’re detrimental when they do. These items are even more lethal than standard plastics. Ropes often come from boats, so they can become fishing debris. The rubber that gets into waterways is most often balloons released during celebrations.
In any case, we need to do more to prevent these items from plaguing marine life. These two objects might not be on your radar. After all, we don’t immediately think about rubber when discussing pollution. Still, it’s essential to consider all plastics when talking about what harms our marine life.
What’s the solution? The answer is complicated. We can’t universally ban balloons. Therefore, we need to work harder to ensure our trash ends up where it belongs. This effort needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
5. Plastic Straws
Eliminating plastic straws became a big deal in 2019. The movement to save turtles surfaced after TikTok videos went viral about the topic — but this problem isn’t new. Researchers predict that more than 8 billion plastic straws pollute our beaches. That’s devastating for all marine animals.
The best course of action is to stop using plastic straws. You can buy metal or glass alternatives at various stores online. This transition will be more difficult for restaurants, but many are taking strides in that direction. Look at how Starbucks transitioned to cups with less plastic over the past two years.
These Are the Worst Plastics for Marine Animals
It’s tough to take a hard look at what’s happening in our oceans. But we need to analyze our problems before we tackle them. By understanding what specific plastics do the most harm, we can discover ways to prevent dangerous situations for marine life.