The big microplastic problem
On the issue of the quality of the natural environment, sometimes things are not so obvious. The fact, for example, that we can’t see any waste after a beach clean up doesn’t mean that the area is free of pollution.
At the Batsi beach clean that the Andros Port Authority organized on September 28, 2021, plenty of microplastics were found, which is a perfect moment to talk about them.
What are microplastics?
Have you heard of microplastics? What are they? And what are nurdles?
Plastic is the most common type of waste found in our seas. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but if it’s smaller than five millimetres in length (about the size of a lentil), it’s classed a microplastic.
Microplastics are tiny plastic fragments, no larger than 5 mm, they are difficult to find, yet they are almost everywhere! Plastic breaks into little pieces. Over time, the sun and heat turn plastics into smaller pieces until they eventually reach tiny sizes.
Microplastics are in the water, and they are eaten by fish that think they are food; they end up in our bodies through the food chain. Microplastics have been found for the first time in the human placenta. They have been found in the most isolated parts of the planet, in the Arctic Ocean (in the North Pole!) and the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the oceans. And if these places seem too far away and you think they don’t concern you, then look more closely at the sand where your children play the next time you go to the beach. There was a lot of microplastics on Batsi beach.
So what are nurdles?
Nurdles or plastic pellets are pieces of plastic about the size of a lentil, so by definition, they are considered microplastics. Nurdles are the first step in the process of making any plastic thing. Your plastic containers, bags, and bottles were all once nurdles. Every nurdle is created to be melted down and turned into a plastic product used by humans. These pellets are the building blocks used to make almost every plastic product we use today, from plastic packaging to car parts.
Why do we find nurdles on the beaches and in nature in general?
At any stage of the industrial process or their transport, usually by sea, these tiny beads can escape as they are small, light and float. Globally, it is estimated that 230,000 tonnes nurdles per year end up in the sea.
Are they dangerous?
Yes, they are dangerous. Animals and fish eat them, thinking they are food. In addition, once nurdles are found in the sea, they attract and accumulate chemical pollutants. They become a potential source of toxic chemicals. And not only that: plastic pellets provide an environment in which bacteria can form, which in turn can host pathogenic microorganisms, such as the harmful to humans Escherichia coli (E.coli).
What can we do about the problem of microplastics?
Reduce plastic use! If we don’t change our habits now, if we do not reduce the use of plastic in general, neither we nor the planet will survive. The paradise of Andros is endangered – for us and future generations. We must acknowledge that the sea and land mirror our daily lives.
Become a pioneer, invest in alternative and sustainable solutions and get plastic out of your life
- for a cleaner and greener Andros!
Simply reduce PLASTIC!
Would you like to know more? Read https://www.nurdlehunt.org.uk/the-problem.html
Do you want to take part in actions for a cleaner and greener Andros? Stay tuned to the Social Media of Clean Green Andros.