Plastic Pollution: It’s What You Can’t See

It’s easy to look around and see plastic pollution all around you. Plastic bags are snagged in branches. Weathered water bottles with missing caps are flattened on roadways and in ditches. Rivers’ edges are littered with pieces of garbage. A nominal effort could fill multiple garbage bags.

What most people fail to recognize is that the majority of plastic pollution that’s causing harm isn’t the plastic pollution that’s an eyesore at the beach and in our neighborhoods. Microscopic particles of plastic are affecting the quality of our water and the condition of our food. Fish are consuming massive amounts of micro fleece particles that are flushed into our streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Underground water aquifers, which supply much of our drinking water, is absorbing millions of non-biodegradable micro plastics. 

Random samplings of water from tiny streams to Great Lakes all show one, undeniable truth:

It’s What We Can’t See That’s Hurting Us

The trillions of microfibers in our planet’s water sources were put there by us. With each wash of man-made fabrics (like that fleece blanket you like), with each flicking of a cigarette butt to the street, we’re littering our planet with microscopic plastics.

The microfibers that are polluting our water are smaller than 5mm in length. The problem with these microscopic particles is that they’re made entirely of synthetic, man-made materials. They do not break down. They do not disappear. And the smaller they become, the more difficult they are to capture and remove from our ecosystem.

The problem isn’t going away. And while it seems that the plastic we see floating down the river and buried in the sand is causing all of the issues, the real threat to our water, our wildlife, and our overall health is something altogether microscopic.