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Plastic in the Sea: Tips Against Plastic Soup

Plastic in the Sea



A lot of plastic floats in the sea, from large pieces on the water to almost invisible pieces (microplastics) under water. We also call this plastic soup. Plastic does not belong in the sea. Birds, fish, dolphins and seals see it as food and eat it. Or they get caught in it.

What can you do about plastic in the sea?
Plastic has a nasty characteristic: it does not end. In nature or in the sea it slowly falls apart into smaller and smaller pieces, but it remains plastic. Animals cannot digest plastic, if they eat it they can die. Plastic can end up in the sea in all sorts of ways. For example, because we leave waste lying around or throw it on the street. But also because products such as scrubs, shower gel, clothing, car tires and even paint contain plastic or plastic particles.

Due to washing, wear or peeling, these particles can release and flow into the sewer with the shower or rain water and end up in the sea from there. Unfortunately, we cannot completely prevent this: for example, you have to wash your clothes occasionally. But with a few tips you can limit your contribution to the amount of plastic in the sea.The experts do not know exactly how harmful the small plastic particles in the sea are. And not how much each product contributes to the plastic soup in the sea.

Easy tips against plastic in the sea

  • 1 Want to eat on the street ? Dispose of your waste in a waste bin. Is the nearest waste bin full? Then don't add it, but look for a more empty container. Or take it home.
  • 2 Day at the beach ? Tidy up your ice papers, fries and plastic bottles well and don't forget the straws, forks and caps.
  • 3 View the tips for consciously dealing with cosmetics , washing clothes , car tires and paint .

What can you do

  • Use your own refillable water bottle and coffee cup : that saves a lot of litter.
  • Make sure you always have a small foldable bag with you: handy for a message in between or a purchase in the city.
  • Dispose of all your trash in the trash , including chewing gum, cigarette butts and small pieces of plastic.
  • Is a garbage bin full on the street ? Do not put it in, but wait until you come across a garbage can in which you can put it.
  • Picnic or barbecue in the park or on the beach? Tidy up all your waste. Do not put bags of waste next to a full bin, but rather throw it away at home.
  • Occasionally pick up waste that is near your house. This way you keep your own street clean.
  • Do not release balloons : you know for sure that they will end up somewhere on the street or in nature.


Car tires: wear tips

Car tires consist largely of synthetic rubber and other plastics. Your tires wear out while driving: as a result, small particles of (synthetic) rubber end up on the street and on the roadside. , it involves around 15 million kilos of wear particles per year. It is estimated that more than 1 million kilos flows through the rainwater to the sewer and from there to ditches, lakes and rivers. Part of it will probably end up in the sea.

What can you do


70% of the tire sharpening comes from passenger cars. Tires with the correct tension wear less quickly. Therefore, inflate your tires well every 2 months : this way you ensure that less synthetic rubber ends up in nature.

Wash clothing smartly


Clothes always wear a little during washing. The fibers that release thereby rinse away with the washing water. This is not a problem with natural materials such as wool and cotton, but synthetic fibers such as polyester, acrylic and fleece contribute to the plastic soup in the sea.

What can you do


  • Do not wash synthetic clothing more often than necessary . Check if your clothes are really dirty or if you can wear them again. They often freshen up when you hang them out for the night, or in front of the open window.
  • Use liquid detergent . Washing powder has a sort of scrubbing function that loosens fibers.
  • Do not flush the fluff from the tumble dryer down the toilet, but throw it in the waste bin.
  • You can also opt for clothing made from natural materials such as wool, cotton, bamboo, linen, silk or viscose. But those substances have other disadvantages for the environment. For example, sheep produce a lot of greenhouse gases and the production of silk, bamboo and viscose is very polluting.

Special washing balls and bags: probably not a solution


There are washing balls and bags for sale that stop or collect loose fibers, so that they do not wash away with the water. Research shows that they are useful for longer fibers. But the question is whether these wash balls and wash bags also stop microfibers.

Handle paint well


You've probably never thought about it, but paint also contains plastic. Wear and tear (peeling), sanding and rinsing of brushes and rollers in the sink can end up in the environment. When sanding paint, flakes and dust particles end up on the street or in the garden. These particles can flow to the sewer with the rainwater. When rinsing brushes and rollers, the paint rinses through the sink drain to the sewer. Via the sewer it can eventually end up in the sea.

What can you do


  • Do not rinse paint residues down the sink and do not rinse your brushes and rollers under the tap. Even if you use water-based paint! It is a misunderstanding that that paint is not harmful to the environment.
  • You don't always have to clean brushes and rollers during your paint job: you can easily store them in a pot of water or a plastic bag.
  • Collect sanding dust, for example there are sanding machines where you can attach a bag in which you collect the dust. And wipe up dust that falls on the floor and throw it in the trash can.
  • Do not use more paint than necessary .
  • In paint on a natural basis (eg linseed oil) is not plastic. The advantage of this is that it does not contribute to the plastic soup. This paint does have other environmental disadvantages: soil and water are needed to grow the oil-bearing plants.
  • Make sure that the paint layer lasts a long time : good preparation is important. Once the paint layer has been applied, clean it regularly.

Plastic in shower foam and makeup (cosmetics)


Microbeads: you have probably heard of it. Scrubs, peels, shower gel and toothpaste sometimes contained small plastic granules that lightly sand your skin or teeth. We call that microbeads. The granules flush with the water through the shower drain to the sewer. Because sewage treatment does not block all particles, part of it is flushed to the sea. Manufacturers in Europe have now replaced these plastic microbeads in almost all products with natural materials, such as sand or ground fruit pits. The problem of the microbeads is therefore largely solved.

Maybe other plastic

There may still be another form of plastic in cosmetics and care products: from makeup, face cream, toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, hair spray, shaving cream, bath soap and baby products to sunburn. Exactly how harmful that plastic is is unknown: an EU organization is currently investigating this. If it is a problem, especially with products that you wash away with water, such as shampoo, shower foam, toothpaste and shaving cream. Make-up and creams do not end up in the sewer: for example, you remove eye shadow with a cotton ball and cream gets into the skin. If you want to be sure, . Products on the green list certainly do not contain microplastics.

What can you do


  • Do not buy make-up or make-up with glitter : these are small plastic particles.
  • Do you still have old bottles or jars of scrub, body wash or cream, or have you purchased products (online) ? Feel then whether there are any grains in it. If you feel granules, check the label: if you see one of the following ingredients on the label, it certainly contains microbeads: polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon (PA). Stop using these products, but throw them away with the packaging with the residual waste.
  • Pay attention to quality marks for natural cosmetics: BDIH, Natrue, Cosmebio, Ecocert or Ecolabel. Products with these labels certainly do not contain plastic.  .

 

Why is plastic a problem in the sea?


Plastic does not perish and is not digestible. We do not know exactly how harmful plastic is for plants, animals and people. But we do know that animals can become entangled in larger pieces of plastic, for example pieces of fishing net and plastic bags. And that they regard plastic for food and eat it, causing them to starve.

 A lot of research has been done into the stomach contents of dead petrels. Fulmars get all their food from the sea and eat everything they encounter in and on the water. Although the amount of plastic has decreased slightly in recent years, in 2016 more than 90 percent of the fulmar in the North Sea still had plastic in their stomachs. On average 21 pieces, if you translate this to humans it is almost a lunch box full! All that plastic can block the stomach or intestines, causing the animals to die.

Microplastics have been found in parts of the body of mussels and fish. When people or animals eat these mussels and fish, it ends up in their bodies. We do not know how harmful that is. We do know that microplastics can influence certain bodily functions of small marine animals (respiration, movement, food intake) and that some substances in plastic can be toxic (plasticizers in plastic, for example, affect hormones). But scientists think that that influence is small.

 

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