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Ocean contains less plastic than previously thought

Words by Tess Becker

Plastic waste and pollution are incredibly damaging to the ocean. Fish and other sea creatures consume the material, which we eventually eat, carrying microplastics into our bloodstream. Nowhere is this more prevalent than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a giant island of garbage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 

However, there’s actually some good news; The extent of plastic pollution in the oceans may be much smaller than assumed for the past two decades.

Estimates ranged from 50 million tons to 300 million tons of plastic waste floating in the oceans, but according to researchers at Utrecht University, the actual amount is closer to 3.2 million tons.

The estimate came from nearly 20,000 reliable measurements worldwide. According to Utrecht University oceanologist Mikeal Kaandorp and his team rivers, in particular, bring much less plastic to the ocean than previously thought. Instead, they expect that much more plastic remains in the rivers than previous estimations.

The previous estimates were made in connection to plastic production worldwide, but much of it never makes it to the ocean . 

“What is in the ocean remains floating in large pieces for much longer. There are far fewer microplastics in the water than previously thought,” Kraandorp said. 

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

The Women Invested to Save Earth Fund. This organization helps support underrepresented and underfunded Black, indigenous, and women of color-led organizations across the world. Find out more and support them here

Florida Bicycle Association. An organization that helps mobilize people and promote greener living and safer biking. Find out more

Collective Sun. They help nonprofits get outfitted with solar power capabilities. Check them out here

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life in Water.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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