Litter chokes environment

Debris on Nine Mile Beach.
Debris on Nine Mile Beach.

IF YOU'VE ever taken a trip to Nine Mile Beach, you may have noticed the coloured debris along the shoreline; the remains of dumped and discarded plastics that have entered the waterways one way or another and ended up on the beach.

Besides the unattractive mess these plastics and other debris cause and the long term effect on lifestyle and tourism, there are much more dire consequences for the ecosystem.

Nature Conservation Office for Greening Australia Pam Malyszek has been working to educate residents about the dangers of discarded plastics.

"Larger items can trap and kill wildlife and items mistaken as food can be ingested reducing fitness of animals or death," she said.

Plastics are known sponges of pollutants leading to bioaccumulation of those pollutants in the food chain.

They can provide transport for foreign bodies to travel on potentially exposing Australia to invasive plants, animals and diseases.

"A recent study found that microplastics associated with clothing fibres were also accumulating in the marine environment and could be entering the food chain," she said.

In the Pacific Ocean marine litter has been accumulating in oceans for years creating a mass of waste trapped by ocean currents.

The North Pacific Gyre also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a massive floating vortex of plastics and chemical waste mostly attributed to land based sources with 20% from ships.

The problem seems insurmountable due to the resilient and pervasive nature of plastic and the only real solution is a change to industry practice and consumer expectations.

Individually wrapped food items that take just as long to unwrap as they do to eat are creating a stockpile of unnecessary waste.

A finicky generation is dependent on disposable water bottles, single serves and shopping bags.

It all adds up to a life made easier by convenience but at what cost?

What can you do?

 Avoid over packaged items - choose paper or glass packaging if necessary.

 Avoid plastic alternatives - Christmas trees, shopping bags, bottles.

 Eat fresh foods

 Buy in bulk - don't buy over packaged single serve items.

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