Microplastics

Majorca Daily Bulletin: What goes around comes around in the Mediterranean Sea

We see the first signs among the seaweeds and white foam: a disposable face mask, a remnant of the Covid Pandemic, which paralysed the entire world. It’s not the only one. The plastic bottle joins a chorus of out-of tune cigarette butts and fast food wrappers. They become part of the fragile ecosystem as they are absorbed by the ocean. Microplastics are invisible to the naked-eye and infiltrate all levels of the food chain. From the plankton, which mistakenly eats them, to the fish we eat, they can be found everywhere.

We are not thinking of floating garbage when we consider the amount of waste that ends in the ocean. The sea is a harsh mirror that reflects our choices, forcing us to rethink the production and consumption model we choose to continue. The ocean is now an archive of all our daily choices. A continuous record of environmental neglect and unsustainable lifestyle. Each straw, each plastic bag, and every six-pack ring is a decision, a series that compounds to create a global problem. The question isn’t just about what waste we dump in the ocean, but also what kind people we are.

A zero-waste life style requires a conscious decision.

Conscientious consumption is not about not buying but purchasing wisely, by asking questions such as: Who made it? Where is it from? What materials were used to make it? This means finding local, fair-trade, non-packaging alternatives that are reusable and repairable, as well as those that don’t require packaging.

Photo: Xavier Mas

A society that is aware of how to consume is vital for the health and well-being of the ocean. The majority of waste found in the ocean are disposable products. These include packaging, cups or bottles. All of these products have reusable alternatives and a huge business potential for developing local economic models which promote reuse.

The majority of fabrics in the ocean are made from synthetic fibres. The throwaway consumption model is causing a growing portion of the waste to be generated. The most common type of waste found on European beaches is tobacco cigarette butts. These products contain a number of chemical compounds which can be harmful to our health as well as our ecosystem.

This waste is a toxic and costly burden. The companies are responsible for the design of the products and their durability. The administrations are the ones who set standards and promote sustainable models.

The most profound realization is that in order to change the way the ocean views us, , we have to first change ourselves. A lifestyle that values sustainability, reuse and environmental awareness, is both an opportunity and necessity. What happens on land will eventually end up in the ocean. In the sea, everything that happens goes back around.