Costa Rica has numerous organized communities that participate regularly in beach cleanups representing a great social evolution. These activities are very important to mitigate the tons of waste that are polluting the oceans. However, we must not lose sight of the details, among which is the micro plastic. This term distinguishes the plastic that has been degraded into small pieces (maximum 5 millimeters) by the interaction of the material with the sun and water. Plastic takes millions of years to biodegrade, which means that the material is simplified so that nature can make use of the molecules that make it up. If before this time some organism consumes micro plastic, it will affect natural processes such as respiration, feeding, reproduction and even growth of the individual who ingests it. It acts as a toxin that interrupts complex biological and chemical processes necessary for the function of the marine species.
Every day there are more reports of plastic found in the stomachs of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and birds. Of much more concern is the fact that micro plastic is being found in fish, snails and many other small animals of commercial and nutritional interest. This situation suggests that it is necessary to take a next step in cleaning beaches and definitely “go into detail”. It is no longer enough to take the big pieces, you have to find and remove the plastic micros as well. We must also be more selective with the amount of plastic we use every day, because at the current rate we will find it inside our food faster than we can even imagine, with the disastrous consequences that this implies for our health.
By Graciela Pulido
INFO: Graciela Pulido - Educación ambiental Reserva Playa Tortuga
Miembro International Sea Turtle Society (ISTS)