THE SMOG OF THE SEA
We’ve all heard the stories about the famous giant “garbage patches” in the ocean’s gyres, described as floating islands of trash, so vast that you can see them from out of space. As it turns out, these patches are a myth, and the truth is actually much, much worse.
In reality, the world’s oceans are being poisoned with a toxic plastic smog which is made up of an estimated 5.25 trillion (!) pieces – that’s about 500 times more than the stars in our galaxy - reaching into every corner of the marine environment. These small particles are ingested by billions of organisms in the world’s oceans, slowly making their way up the food chain. Humanity’s reliance on cheap, single-use plastic is smothering the seas, with these plastic bits likely to stick around for decades, or longer. After all, you can clean up a garbage patch, but how do you stop a fog?
THE PLASTIC CHALLENGE
The main problem with plastic in the ocean is that it doesn’t biodegrade. Waves, salt water and UV radiation break plastic into smaller particles, but virtually every piece of plastic ever produced still exists in some form. On top of that, cleaning up plastic smog is extremely complicated: not only are the pieces of debris extremely small, but also constantly moving and mixing. This has led to scientists saying that the Anthropocene – the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment – will most certainly be linked to the increasing prevalence of plastic around the planet. The following stats give a good idea of why plastic is so detrimental to our environment:
• About 300 million tons of the petrochemical wonder are made every year—half of which is single use only.
• Worldwide, as many as one trillion plastic bags are used each year. Americans alone use more than 380 billion plastic bags and wraps each year.
• Less than 5% of plastics are recycled worldwide.
• For every 167 disposable water bottles, the average American uses, only 38 are recycled. Every day, more than 500 million plastic straws are discarded.
• It is estimated that there are 100 million tons of plastic in oceans around the world and that every year, an additional 5-13 million tons of plastic enter our oceans.
• More than 700 species of marine animals have been reported to have eaten or become entangled in plastic. Over 1 million marine animals (including mammals, fish, sharks, turtles, and birds) are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean.
• For every kilogram of plankton in the ocean, there are six kilograms of plastic.
• Unless action is taken, by 2050, there will be more plastic by weight than fish in our oceans.
HOW CAN THIS PROBLEM BE SOLVED?
While the impact of the marine debris problem is becoming more and more known and has led to numerous ocean clean-ups, efforts should increasingly focus on encouraging industries to refrain from creating single-use plastic in the first place, and consumers from using it. Recycling rates in the U.S. have stagnated in recent years, and only about one-third of the country’s waste is recycled. Too many products are being designed in a way that they slip past current waste management systems.
The good news is that we still have the power to fight marine plastic pollution by supporting reusable items to reduce plastic consumption. Taking a lead role in revolutionizing the beauty and personal care industry, ViTA has made it its goal to capture and divert 10 million pounds of plastic at risk of polluting the oceans, with the world’s first and currently only bottles to be made entirely from 100% OceanBound recycled plastic. ViTA’s OceanBound post-consumer recycled resin carries a 70% lower carbon footprint than other plastics and features non-toxic colorants and labels that easily separate, so that they easily enter the recycling stream of mainstream recycling facilities, and don’t end up in landfills or the ocean. For its revolutionary packaging design ViTA was rewarded with the 2018 Sustainable Packaging Coalition's (SPC) Innovator of the Year Award for Breakthrough Process.
It’s up to us to change the tide and ensure the health of our planet for future generations, so become part of the #BetterFuture ViTA is creating, and experience the superior performance of natural, toxin-free beauty care while doing your part to protect the planet you love!