Like the taste of plastic? You may be eating it without even knowing it.
If the cliche “You are what you eat” is true, this story is sure to scare you.
In what has been billed as the broadest study of its kind from researchers at Stanford and UC-Davis, 386 species of fish were identified to have ingested plastic debris. What’s more frightening, 210 of those species are considered commercially important.
No, these fish aren’t eating full plastic straws or bags. Instead, the researchers have discovered that these fish are ingesting microplastics, which are miniscule and barely visible pieces of plastic that continue to float through our oceans when bigger plastic items - think bags, bottles, straws, etc - break down.
Scientists say this apparent increase in fish ingesting microplastics is most likely based on two factors:
- It’s easier to identify microplastics
- Increased ocean plastic pollution
The increase in fish consumption of plastic is happening at a rapid piece. According to the research, the number of marine fish species having consumed plastic has quadrupled since 2016.
The fact that more and more fish are consuming toxic plastic is alarming enough. But even worse, new research also suggests that microplastics make their way into fish muscle tissue and eventually into humans who consume that tissue.
In other words, the more fish eat microplastics, the more likely it is that humans are also consuming toxic plastic material.
If there’s ever been more of a reason for us to be concerned about the unending amount of plastic being dumped into our oceans, this new research is at the top of the list.
And while each one of us alone can't change the plastic pollution problem. We can each take small steps that have a real impact. That starts with buying reusable alternatives for common wasteful products.
To get ideas on how to replace the most wasteful products, check out our Sustainable Ecosystem.