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Life in plastic, it’s fantastic: The Ocean


When the icy cold sugary liquid of your plastic purchase is swimming down your gullet don’t forget that 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million seabirds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually.

Plastic is everywhere. I can not go through even the first three minutes of my day without encountering plastic.

First, I hear the loud tick emanating from my plastic sun-shaped clock on the wall.

Second, I check the messages on my plastic backed phone.

Third, I’m out of bed and pulling on a hoodie that’s about 60% plastic.

Fourth, I go have a shower under a plastic shower head.

Five… I could go on and on and on and on. But it’ll trigger too much eco-anxiety.

There is even plastic under my finger tips as I type this out. It’s an epidemic. But plastic is not just in places we want it to be (if we want it to be anywhere), it’s turning up places it shouldn’t. Like on our beaches.

I recently ate a very strange pan-fried gourd lunch at a restaurant on Watergate Bay in Cornwall for my Mother’s birthday. Afterwards, we went walking along the beach. It is a vast, flat expanse of sand, beautiful in a monstrous way that makes you feel small, like a tiny dot on the great long narrative of human history. Nobody can be thinking of personal worries when they are being confronted with their tiny dot-like nature. It’s calming to be so inconsequential. Dogs were chasing after sticks and the wind was whipping everyone into an autumnal bliss.

Then I stepped on plastic and remembered that we aren’t inconsequential at all.

This stunning, worry-dissolving stretch of innocent sand had been polluted by plastic. It was everywhere. Poor old mother nature choking on plastic petit filous pots and fishing wire. She doesn’t deserve any of this.

We are using plastic at faster rates and in larger quantities than ever before and it doesn’t just get stored underground or dropped in bushes, it gets to our seas.

Currently, it is believed that 8 million pieces of plastic enter the ocean every day. Two-thirds of this ocean plastic comes from human litter (god did I say we suck already?). Litter can come from anywhere and end up in the sea.

Currently, it is approximated that there are 51 trillion microscopic pieces of plastic in the ocean, which all together weighs 269,000 tons, the same as 1345 adult blue whales or 10% of the total blue whale population worldwide.

That is so much plastic and it’s going to be there for ages.

Plastic takes 450 years to break down in the ocean but it can never truly disappear and it will only break down into smaller and smaller pieces that will be too small to collect and remove.

Humans have been making plastic about 100 years but it has only been in mass production since the 1950s.

This means every single piece of plastic that we have made and thrown recklessly into the sea in the entirety of our plastic history is still floating in there, causing havoc.

Plastic in the ocean is an absolute nightmare. For fish, dolphins, seals and seabirds it can be lethal, either because it is ingested or because they get trapped in it unable to hunt real food. A dying whale was found in

Norway recently and its autopsy revealed that it had 30 plastic bags and lots of plastic packing trapped inside its intestines causing painful blockages that led to the creature’s death. That was us. We made the plastic. We dropped it in the ocean. The whale ate it and died. Bloody whale murderers the lot of us.

But it is not only the whales eating the plastic, it’s us now too. 1 in 3 fish sold for human consumption contains plastic and if it’s brought down the mighty beast of a whale what the hell is it going to do to a puny little thing like you.

Even if you never eat fish again or never go to a beach you still breathe! 70% of oxygen comes from ocean plants and plastic pollution is disrupting that ecosystem and putting this supply in danger.

Next time you buy a plastic bottle of water or coke remembers that over 150 plastic bottles litter each mile of UK beaches. 1 mile has 150 plastic bottles, don’t you think the mile is a little outnumbered there?

And when the icy cold sugary liquid of your plastic purchase is swimming down your gullet don’t forget that 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million seabirds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually.

But if we give up now it is all over.

I do believe we have a chance of working together and making a positive impact on this issue.

How? Here are a number of things you can do to curb plastic pollution in the ocean and the ultimate destruction of humankind alongside the mass extinction of thousands of non-human species (how jolly).

  1. Join a Beach Clean. Lots are happening constantly around the country and if there isn’t one near you, start one yourself!
  2. Volunteer with organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage and Greenpeace.
  3. If not volunteer, then fundraise for them. They need the money.
  4. Stop buying unnecessary plastic. Next time you do your shopping take note of how much plastic is present (don’t forget about hidden plastics such as in clothes and face wipes) and try and find plastic-free alternatives. If you don’t a seal will die and it will be all your fault! (sorry…not sorry)
  5. Get political. Plastic pollution is a systemic issue that infiltrates society on an omnipresent level, we need government action if we are going to get the system change we so desperately need to reduce plastic pollution. Tweet at your local MPs and ask them what they are doing to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans. Send letters to your local council and put the pressure on them. Vote with the environment in mind.
  6. Most importantly, stay angry. Passivity becomes complacency and complacency on this issue will have drastic and lethal results.
I believe that we can make a difference. I have faith in humanity to be better than we currently are or ever have been. If I didn’t have faith in the future, I’d go mad.

So please for the benefit of my mental health, don’t buy that plastic bottle of water. You don’t need it.


G. E. Kelsey


This story was originally published by G. E. Kelsey,

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