When you think of the ocean, what images come to mind? Perhaps you see cresting waves, schools of tuna, or sunlit kelp forests. What you likely don’t imagine is plastic. But by 2050 it’s estimated that plastic debris in the world’s oceans will outweigh fish — a staggering fact given its lightweight nature.
Stories and photos of plastic waste floating in our world’s waterways, ensnaring wildlife and overtaking popular beaches from Bali to Hawaii are now commonplace in the mainstream media. We now know the largest confluence of plastic waste in the world — the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — is bigger than Alaska. We also know the churning ocean breaks down this waste into microplastic particles, which are ingested by fish and then by humans. This issue has grown so concerning that the United Nations is focusing this year’s World Oceans Day on June 8 on how best to “Clean Our Ocean.”