Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean, threatening just about every marine species and ecosystem. As the global population grows and countries develop, this is only going to increase, eventually threatening us as well—if it isn’t already.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch swirls between Hawaii and California, made up of microparticles from plastics of all types finding their way into the ocean and being broken down by sun, wind, waves, and microbes. Four other patches of similar size exist in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, as the plastic gets trapped in the rotation of convection currents.
This staggering amount of plastic is wreaking havoc. Many marine animals, from seagulls to sharks, mistake the plastic for food, which not only causes blockage or perforation of the intestinal tract, but leaches toxic chemicals into the food chain. The National Academy of Sciences estimates 90 percent of seabirds have ingested plastic.