A Plastic Ocean

Without the blue there is no green.
— Dr Sylvia Earle

A Plastic Ocean 

begins when journalist Craig Leeson, searching for the elusive blue whale, discovers plastic waste in what should be pristine ocean. In this adventure documentary, Craig teams up with free diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, and they travel to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans, uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution, and reveal working solutions that can be put into immediate effect.
 

Some Stunning Statistics:

- More than 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced in one year
- Every day, we use 20 million plastic water bottles
- More than 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year
- 50% of all plastic is single use and have an average useful lifetime of 12 minutes
- Scientists estimate that more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are currently floating in our oceans

The film presents beautiful shots of the marine environment. This contrasts with footage of heavily polluted cities and dumps full of plastic rubbish. The juxtaposition between these images sends the message that our actions and choices can severely impact the planet. Throughout the film, experts are interviewed to provide further insight into some of the problems derived from plastic. We are shown footage of numerous marine species that have been affected by plastic debris. Marine animals and sea birds often mistake floating plastic for food. Large pieces of plastic, when eaten, can obstruct the animals’ digestive tracts of the animals, essentially starving them to death.
 

Our Oceans and Plastic Pollution

There are five main ocean currents, also known as ‘gyres’ which are created by the Earth’s rotation and the resulting predominant winds. These are: North & South Pacific, North & South Atlantic and Indian. 80% of ocean waste originates from land. This waste travels to the center of the gyre where it collects. Scientists estimate that it takes about 20 years for waste to reach the centre of the ocean. Most plastics do not break down chemically. Instead, they break into smaller and smaller pieces that can persist in the environment for an extensive period of time. Over time, the plastic waste pieces in the ocean break up into much smaller bits as they are eroded by sunlight, salt water, currents and waves. 
 

The Food Chain and Plastics

There are two types of plankton: zooplankton (animals) and phytoplankton (plants). Zooplankton feed on phytoplankton, small fish feed on zooplankton, squid feed on small fish and so it goes on up the food chain. Water born chemicals from decades of industry and agriculture attract to plastic like a magnet. When these plastics mix with plankton, they are eaten by fish and become part of the food chain. We then eat these fish, causing the toxins to enter our bodies. The consumption of the contaminated seafood can cause many health problems including cancer, immune system problems, and even childhood developmental issues. Society’s huge appetite for plastic is quite literally poisoning us.
 

The Future of Plastics

The film offers various strategies that can be implemented to reduce the impact of plastics. Ideally, avoid plastic-containing products as much as possible. Avoid single-use plastic products and recycle whatever you can. It also suggests that local governments need to implement a refund scheme for the return of plastic bottles to incentivise recycling. For unrecyclable plastics, new technology has been developed to convert them into fuel, providing a second life for those plastics.

The oceans provide more than 50% of the oxygen we breathe – thanks to the phytoplankton – more than the rainforests.
Let's try to protect our main source of oxygen, shall we?

 

Read about 7 Easy Things You Can Do to Reduce Plastic Pollution.
 

 

Want to see this film? Go to http://aplasticocean.film/ and join the cause!
 

Sources:
https://plasticoceans.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Plastic-Oceans_Educational-Supplement_vJan2108.pdf
http://theconversation.com/film-review-a-plastic-ocean-shows-us-a-world-awash-with-rubbish-74534