It’s a beautiful sunny day and we’re off to the beach. It’s such a privilege to have this natural playground right on our doorstep. There’s swimming, surfing, body-boarding and just general lazing about in the sand catching a tan, all for free… or so we think. The ocean carries with it the cost of responsibility for keeping it clean and free of toxins. With the advent of plastics around the turn of the twentieth century this cost began to rise, first quite slowly, but now there is a veritable avalanche of plastic pouring into our oceans. This takes the form of plastic liquid containers, shopping bags, fast food containers and the list goes on and on. This has a massive impact on sea-life.
All ocean creatures now carry plastic within them. This takes the form of plastic objects or pieces thereof and “micro-plastics” which are minute particles that come from broken down plastic objects (plastic never ever ever bio-degrades!). This occurs from plankton at the bottom of the food chain, right up to massive whales. This doesn’t only endanger the lives of the sea-creatures affected, but also sea-birds and us of course. When eating sushi you are now getting a whole lot more than you bargained for!
Plastic is often seen as an inert, harmless substance, but it does in fact leach many dangerous chemicals into the environment. A particularly nasty chemical found in plastics is Bisphenol A. It is used to harden certain plastics. Bisphenol A (or more commonly known as BPA) started its life in a birth-control research project as it is an endocrine disruptor (messes with your hormones), but was found to be ineffective. BPA mimics the hormone estrogen, which may be why girls seem to be maturing at an earlier age. There are many health risks associated with this chemical, of which here are a few:
- multiple types of cancer
- thyroid problems
- developmental issues
As an aside BPA is all over thermal printed till slips and, as luck would have it, is easily absorbed through the skin!
The only way that we can combat these issues is at the source. We need to start making more intelligent choices when it comes to our habits. Take a reusable shopping bag with you when you go to the supermarket. They are easy to fold up and put inside your handbag, especially the clever ones that are made from rip-stop nylon (yes, I know that’s plastic too!). Use a glass bottle to carry your water around in and stop using single use plastic bottles. Recycle everything you possibly can. Tell your favourite take-away joint that you can’t continue buying their food until they start using sensible containers. Most of all DON’T BE A LITTER BUG! Take something with you when you go to the beach (or anywhere for that matter) so that you can take everything you brought with you home to be recycled. It is up to us to solve this crucial challenge…