The discerning mind understands the importance of drinking filtered water and commits to using a good filtration system. Unfortunately, the success of the bottled water industry continues to grow, even with the knowledge that plastic bottles are a huge potential health hazard. As reported in the Japan Timesearlier this month, the world’s leading brands of bottled water have been contaminated with tiny plastic particles that are likely seeping in during the packaging process.1
There’s also the matter of conscience. Every one of us can choose to contribute to the preservation of our environment or expedite its demise. As recently as earlier this month, the Ocean Cleanup Foundation—with researchers at institutions in New Zealand, the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Denmark—published in the journal Scientific Reports, that 79,000 tons of plastic debris, in the form of 1.8 trillion pieces, now occupy an area three times the size of France in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii.2 It’s known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”
According to the Ocean Cleanup Foundation researchers, the plastic is coming largely from Pacific countries, but they also believe that some of the debris comes from elsewhere, moved by ocean currents. Based on prior examinations dating back to the 1970s, the study finds that the plastic in the patch is growing, as more flows in than out. 2
Plastic pollution is so far-reaching that even the pristine Artic has been infiltrated. A study published in 2017 in the journal Science Advances, estimates that 300 billion pieces of tiny plastic are suspended in Arctic waters, with even more on the seafloor. 3Because the population in the Arctic is so small, it is unlikely that it directly contributed to so much waste. Instead, researchers believe the aged and weathered state of the plastic waste suggests that it has been traveling the seas for decades, breaking down along the way. The study was led by Andrés Cózar of the University of Cádiz in Spain, together with researchers from universities in Denmark, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Environmental engineer Jenna Jambeck at the University of Georgia conducted a study on plastic waste processes in 2015 and found that humans were filling the oceans with an estimated eight million tons of plastic annually. Projections are that this will increase 22 percent by 2025.4 In addition, the study found that much of the plastic was sinking and damaging the lower depths of the ocean as well as the seafloor. As the plastic footprint enlarges, the future of our planet diminishes.