Most of us come in contact with plastic every day of our lives. It fills our cupboards, desk drawers and vehicles. Plastic is also one of the most commonly littered items on earth.
Most of our plastic products are designed to last, and last they do. It can take hundreds or even thousands of years for plastic containers to decompose. In fact, according to Green Feet, nearly every piece of plastic ever made is still in existence today.
Among all of that plastic, one of the least commonly recycled items are the caps used to seal plastic containers. Often we are told to recycle the bottle and throw the cap into the trash.
Little caps floating in the water can look like an easy meal for a wide variety of wildlife, from fish and sea turtles to marine birds. Even in a landfill, plastic caps still pose a threat to animals such as seagulls, which scavenge through the masses of trash looking for food.
This unaltered photo shows the decomposing carcass of an albatross baby that was fed a diet of plastic by its parents. The adult birds scavenge the waters for food to bring back to their young. The birds mistake the plastic for food, with tragic results.
A large majority of the trash that we produce today is plastic. Most plastic is made from petroleum or natural gas and does easily not break down over time.
According to the Sea Studios Foundation, plastic waste accumulates in swirling seas of debris in the ocean, where plastic to sea life ratios are 6:1. Birds and mammals are dying of starvation and dehydration with bellies full of plastics; fish are ingesting toxins at such a rate that soon they will no longer be safe to eat.
It’s a seriously big issue, especially when we take into account the 5 Gyres. The following information was gathered from 5Gyres.org
Lots of Plastic that Lasts
Why it is so important to recycle plastic bottle caps
Our oceans are dynamic systems, made up of complex networks of currents that circulate water around the world. Large systems of these currents, coupled with wind and the earth’s rotation, create “gyres” or massive, slow rotating whirlpools which can accumulate plastic trash.
The North Pacific Gyre is the most heavily researched for plastic pollution. It spans an area roughly twice the size of the United States - though it is a fluid system, shifting seasonally in size and shape. Plastic trash in the gyre will remain for decades or longer, being pushed gently in a slow, clockwise spiral towards the center.
Most of the research on plastic trash circulating in oceanic gyres has focused on the North Pacific, but there are 5 major oceanic gyres worldwide, with several smaller gyres in Alaska and Antarctica. Marine researchers don’t yet know the extent to which plastic pollution exists in the world’s oceans
Learn more at 5gyres.org