Anyone been watching the new Blue Planet? Anyone else feeling both inspired to go play in the ocean, and vaguely terrified about what we’re doing to it?
Alongside the usual incredible footage on the latest episode was heartbreaking scenes of a pilot whale carrying her dead calf, potentially caused by pollutants linked to plastic pollution. While there’s no way to know for sure what killed the calf, this is all too likely.
Plastic itself is produced using many potentially toxic additives (like phthalates & flame retardants). It then can accumulate persistent organic pollutants (like heavy metals & pesticides) while floating at sea. When the plastic is eaten, these chemicals move into the food chain, often accumulating in the top predators (including large fish, sharks, marine mammals and us).
One example: a recent WWF study of whales in the Mediterranean Sea looked at concentrations of pthalates (a common plastic additive used in everything from packaging to shower curtains to nail polish). A level of 300 µg/kg (micrograms per kilogram) of pthalates is considered dangerously high. Tissue samples of sperm, pilot & fin whales found an average concentration of 1060 µg/kg !!
So, we know our pollutants are at dangerous levels, potentially causing harm to our oceans, whales, and even ourselves. Want to do something about it? Choose one thing, just one single-use plastic item right now, and quit it. Bags, bottles, straws, coffee cups, whatever you like. Pick one and start there, make this your motivation to get started on making a switch to reusable. If you’re not sure what to switch to, there is a world of solutions online or feel free to ask. You have everything you need to be part of the solution.
The good news? There are already people out there making changes to their lives after seeing this footage! Be part of the movement, and part of the solution.