OCEAN AT HOME
Currently, most of us #stayathome. We would like to make sure that you do not get bored – so we looked through our OCEAN archives and found films and additional material from the last Int. OCEAN FILM TOUR Volumes for you to pass the time at home, for example the film "A Plastic Ocean" (Int. OCEAN FILM TOUR Vol. 4).
A sea full of waste
Every year, approximately 10 million metric tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans—and that number is steadily rising.
Awareness of the devastating effects of plastic pollution is also increasing, but awareness is not enough. In the International OCEAN FILM TOUR Volume 4 (2017), the film A Plastic Ocean documented the extent of the problem and continues to provide a comprehensive examination of this issue.
Watch "A PLASTIC OCEAN" ON NETFLIX
The film is currently available on Netflix. Craig Leeson, Tanya Streeter, Sylvia Earle, and many more dedicated environmental experts and activists explore the global consequences of plastic pollution on our oceans and marine life as well as the innovative measures we, even as individuals, can take to mitigate it.
Watch film on
Do you want to learn more about this topic and find out what you can do? We have collected a list of ideas for making a tangible difference.
WHY WE ONLY SEE THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
Only 1% of the plastic waste in our oceans consists of identifiable objects. The other 99% of the problem is virtually invisible—this is microplastic.
Large pieces of plastic floating in the ocean degrade over time through exposure to sunlight, waves, and wind to become microplastic—pieces that are less than five millimeters in size. These tiny particles can be colonized by toxic bacteria, and as they sink into the oceans' depths, they are mistaken for plankton and consumed by marine life. Microplastics are therefore not only a danger for all sea inhabitants but, via the food chain, ultimately end up on our plates.
WHAT WE CAN DO:
FOUR STEPS TO CLEANER OCEANS
Anyone who has ever tried to avoid products that are packaged in plastic or contain microplastics in the supermarket will know that it's not so easy. That said, it is essential that we rethink our consumption and our handling of plastic waste.
Eliminate single-use plastics
Straws, to-go coffee cups, disposable tableware, and plastic bags can be replaced by simple, sustainable alternatives. We can each do our part through our buying choices, and politicians are even taking action. Starting in 2021, there will be a ban on the sale of disposable plastic items in all EU member states, and an increasing number of cities and states are enforcing a legal ban on plastic bags.
Buy unpackaged products
Unpackaged food and other goods are readily available at local farmers' markets, and several larger cities have package-free stores where you can shop for everyday essentials using glass bottles and other containers that you can refill or return. You can get an overview of zero-waste stores here:
Even some supermarket chains have started implementing this approach. In the end, the decision is up to you—the consumer. Do you choose the plastic-wrapped cucumber? Do you really need pre-cut fruit in a disposable cup? Can you buy your shampoo in bulk and reuse your own bottle?
Shaun Frankson (Plastic Bank) about responsible consumerism
400 years. That is the life span of plastic. To use it once and throw it away is absurd. If plastic is separated and properly disposed of, it can be recycled. Visit the website of the German Environment Agency for more information:
German Environment Agency
Reclaim and reuse
Some companies are strengthening the recycling economy by keeping materials in circulation longer. Plastic bottles are being converted into high-quality, everyday items, like shoes and down-like filling material. In the field of hygiene, the Frosch brand (a partner of the Int. OCEAN FILM TOUR) is committed to recycling. Its products are not only 100% recyclable but also consist of 100% reclaimed plastic. Ocean conservation is very important to Frosch; their entire range of products is free of microplastics.
More about Frosch
Alternative materials will be vital in the near future. There are currently several start-ups selling new and innovative products, such as packaging made of pressed straw instead of Styrofoam, ice cream spoons made of grain and coffee grounds, or bags made of bioplastics.
3. Clean up
Once plastic has found its way into the ocean, it is nearly impossible to get it back out. The larger objects that float on the surface can potentially be removed, but we do not yet have the technology to filter out the microplastics.
The Ocean Cleanup
Since 2013, The Ocean Cleanup has been working on full-scale prototypes to extract plastic pollution from the ocean. With the help of currents and V-shaped 'tentacles', the floating waste is gathered together, scooped off the surface with a kind of sieve, and then recycled. Their latest prototype is currently being used successfully on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The first fully functional waste collection system is scheduled to go into operation in 2021.
The Ocean Cleanup
Pacific Garbage Screening
A team led by Marcella Hansch also set out to remove plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Hansch designed a floating platform that would potentially calm the water to such an extent that plastic particles would collect on the surface and then be skimmed off. Because 80% of plastic waste enters the sea via estuaries, the team is currently looking into placing the platform at mouths of rivers. Hansch's team started a nonprofit organization called Pacific Garbage Screening (PGS) and are working toward the day when their platform can be deployed.
Pacific Garbage Screening
Waste collection campaigns
Fortunately, polluted beaches can be cleaned with much less technical effort. Waste collection campaigns organized by the Surfrider Foundation and Ocean Initiatives are open to everyone. Find out more here:
David Katz thinks the core of our plastic problem is in how we perceive plastic as "waste". The Plastic Bank, which he founded in 2013, accepts "garbage" from collectors and gives it a value. For example, for each kilo of plastic, collectors can get free Internet access or charge their smartphones. Because the Plastic Bank also takes care of recycling and further processing, the concept is of particular interest to poorer countries that do not have a functioning waste management system. The Plastic Bank is currently active in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Haiti and is expanding worldwide.
David Katz about the project