We often make this assumption...

Because plastic is a catastrophe for our waters and seas. But we here in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are actually far away from the great oceans. Why does this topic affect us so acutely?

Most of our plastic waste enters the sea via rivers or is caused by giant tankers or the fishing industry. As a result, large eddies form in the oceans, as the garbage is carried far out into the open sea with the currents. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one of the best examples of this.

And non-returnable PET bottles account for a large proportion of the garbage patches, because we use them almost every day and often completely without thinking. We're thirsty, the next vending machine isn't far away, another plastic bottle in circulation. Because the plastic bottles that are only used once are a real disaster for our environment.

Beach full of plastic
Image ID: fis00840, NOAA's Fisheries Collection Credit: NOAA News 2013 September 4

We all know the pictures of polluted beaches, of birds dying on small pieces of plastic. From fish that have microplastics in their bodies.

At the same time, many people are becoming active. They clean up beaches, initiate projects and invent machines (The Ocean Cleanup Project), which should free the oceans from plastic waste. But these machines only remove the garbage visible to us.

Because on the journey of the plastic waste in the sea, the large plastic parts are crushed. Plastic is decomposed by the sun's rays and decomposed by the smallest bacteria.

Our plastic waste becomes microplastics, particles smaller than five millimeters. These microplastic swirls exist in a very high concentration - invisible to the human eye. Fish mistake microplastics for plankton and in some places in sea water there is already six times more plastic than plankton. This means that microplastics also get into the food chain of all fish and, of course, last but not least, back onto our plates and into our stomachs.

A million plastic bottles are bought every minute worldwide. Soon there will be more plastic bottles than fish in the sea.

A decision was recently made in the EU to reduce the plastic tide. Certain products made of single-use plastic are even to be banned entirely. Especially disposable plastic products that are used only once such as drinking straws, plastic cutlery, plastic plates, cotton swabs, plastic sticks, foam plastic and oxo-degradable plastic. This is plastic, which according to the manufacturer later decomposes itself (but certain metals are added to the materials for this purpose).

A first small step in the right direction.

We ourselves can also do a lot to avoid plastic waste. Wherever possible and sensible, you can try not to use plastic.

Buy cotton bags instead of plastic bags, buy vegetables unpackaged or directly from the market, recycle consistently, ban cosmetics with microplastics from your everyday life. Go through the inventory of your clothes and eliminate items with microplastics that further pollute our environment with every wash.

Above all, we have an obligation to sensitize our children and friends to a zero waste and plastic-free life.

Talk about it, be a role model, don't stick to habits, just start with them.

Plastic-free drinking bottle with water filter for on the go
On vacation without disposable PET plastic bottles - filter the water yourself!

Just take a first step, such as banning disposable PET bottles completely from everyday life !!

A few more tips:

  • Drink safe tap water whenever possible
  • Bubbling water at home yourself
  • Use drinking bottles made of glass, stainless steel and BPA-free plastic Tritan for on the go
  • Filter water on the go, use mobile water filters when travelling
  • Do you live abroad and have no access to clean drinking water? Use a portable water filter. The purchase of disposable PET plastic bottles will thus become obsolete for you.
Water filter for on the go
Filter water wherever you are - avoid disposable plastic bottles!

(Data sources: Heinrich Boell Stiftung Meeresatlas 2017, utopia.de, The Ocean Cleanup Project)