A citizen science program to determine the level of plastic pollution in Australia has come to some remarkable conclusions.
Stunningly it estimates that the average Australian consumes one credit card worth of plastic per week!
In a project started in 2018, volunteers have amassed more than 3.5 million pieces of plastic debris from over 300 beaches around Australia. The Australian Microplastics Assessment Project, known as Ausmap, collected plastic and fibers between 1 and 5 mm in length.
While the effects of microplastics on humans are still relatively poorly understood, there is strong evidence that it negatively impacts wildlife. To make matters worse, as wildlife consumes the plastics, it also ingests any pollutants contained within them. Evidence is mounting about the negative impact of these plastics on marine life, from stunting growth to affecting reproduction; study after study seems to confirm that they are harming our oceans.
According to Dr. Denise Hardesty, a research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation:
“Plastics and microplastics are ubiquitous. They’re in our waterways, they’re in our stormwater drains, they’re being shed by tires from cars, they’re being shed from carpet fibres in people’s homes. People focus on microplastics, but most microplastics start out as larger plastics. It’s actually starting with changing some of our consumption behaviour, [and] plastics manufacturing all up.”