Recycling is a regular topic in local and world news and deserves our collective effort. Vanessa Mottram, our editor, explains why we need to train our children to recycle plastic.
Huge masses of plastic rubbish have been found swirling slowly around in enormous whirlpools, some the size of small islands, in each of our 5 main oceans. These massive ‘Plastic Gyres’ are created by sea and air currents. About 80 percent of the rubbish come from humans on land.
Map of the world showing 5 ocean gyres
Plastic never bio-degrades, it photo-degrades, meaning it is broken down into tiny pieces by sunlight over a very long time. Other plastic products, like disposable nappies, can take 500 years to photo-degrade! A lot of the plastic floating in the gyres is in small pieces, so rather than a rubbish dump of floating bottles and bags, it has been described as “plastic soup”.
The plastic gyres have a terrible effect on marine life! Many creatures mistake these plastic pieces for phytoplankton. Baby albatrosses have been found with bottle tops and other plastic rubbish in their stomachs, fed to them by their parents. These particles cannot pass through their digestive systems, so they slowly starve to death! Plastics eaten by turtles have blocked their intestines, making the animals float so they can’t dive for food. Creatures become entangled in fishing nets and line.
Plastic was first produced in 1907, just over a 100 years ago which means that we have collected over 100 years worth of plastic on earth and it’s going to keep on piling up unless we do something about it.
It’s up to us as parents to set an example and educate our children to become socially responsible regarding recycling. Encourage your child to look up information on ‘gyres’ and other recycling initiatives on the internet to support the lessons you may want to teach them concerning saving our planet.
Collect and recycle your plastic waste to help reduce plastic sea pollution!
Local Collection Depots can be found on the internet at: www.myschool.co.za/blog/641-recycle-with-woolworths-and-engen-stores
An aerial photograph of plastic soup!