Seafood with a side of plastic

We know that plastic waste is a hazard for sealife. But a study has proven that it hits closer to home than you think: it affects you, too!

turtlering

Concerns for Humans
Researchers in the U.K. found that plastic waste ingested by sea life can be passed to animals who eat the prey. (Spoiler alert: humans are animals too.)

Microplastic Digestion
Plastic wears down and breaks apart into small pieces, called microplastic. Many marine animals mistake microplastic for food. Researchers recently studied the scat of captive grey seals at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall.

They found that plastic in the Atlantic mackerel eaten by seals went through the seals’ digestive system. This is the first study to prove that digested plastic is transferred from fish to a marine mammal predator.

Chemical Concerns
According to Sarah Nelms, the lead researcher on the study, the chemicals on plastic can cause a big issue for the animals who ingest the plastic. “Some of the chemicals are known to cause disruption to the immune system and important hormones,” Nelms explained.

Financial Impact
The plastic transfer can also have a financial implication. “If microplastics lead to a decline in the survival and reproduction of commercial fish species, it may have economic and social implications for people whose livelihoods depend on them,” Nelms said.

Plastic Transfer
The study suggests that anyone eating prey that swallowed plastic will ingest that plastic. There are implications on human consumption of sea life, like fish and lobster. Nelms explains, “it is possible that microplastics pass through the wall of the digestive tract and enter the edible tissue of the fish.”

So, the next time you order seafood, you might be getting more than you bargained for.

 

Nelms, S.E., et al., Investigating microplastic trophic transfer in marine top predators, Environmental Pollution (2018), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.02.016

 

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Save the Environment: Drink Beer

Humans are not the only species affected by plastic waste. Some businesses are using some innovative ways to protect wildlife through go-green initiatives. Here are a few of the eco-friendly actions I have noticed over the past few months.

Plastic Straws
Divi Resorts has hotels in the Caribbean. I was on vacation recently in Sint Maarten and read an article stating the chain will no longer have plastic straws. The company has several “Divi green initiatives” that include water and energy conservation and recycling. Their staff members attend eco-workshops and participate in environmental committees. I think companies who not only follow green practices but also encourage their staff to think environmentally are making a difference in the world.

A little closer to home, Sebago Brewing Company in Maine has biodegradable straws. I am always happy to see this. Most people don’t think about straws when they consider plastic waste. Why would they? Straws are so small. Unfortunately, it is their size that can cause trouble in the ocean. Straws and straw pieces can be digested by sea life.

straw

According to strawlessocean.org, in America alone, over 500 million straws are used per day. Many of those end up in the ocean where sea turtles, sea birds, and other sea animals ingest them.

Where does the beer come in?

beer

Six Pack Rings
Final Gravity Brewing in Kalamazoo, Michigan teamed up with a company called E6PR. It stands for Eco 6 Pack Ring. The company makes biodegradable 6-pack rings for the brewing company’s beer. How inventive is that? Wait, it gets better. Not only are the rings quickly biodegradable, but because they are made from barley and wheat byproducts from the beer-making process, they are edible. No, I’m not suggesting you eat the rings when you are done with your beer. On the other hand, I won’t judge. But it will save countless animals who do ingest the rings! Check out this amazing video about the biodegradable rings!

 

 

Have you seen any businesses that are going green? Tell me how!