On Earth, Trash is everywhere; from the tops of mountains to the bottoms of the ocean, and everything in between.
According to a new study, giant mounds of garbage are now washing up on the shores of tropical islands in the Indian Ocean.
Four hundred million pieces of trash (260 tons) have recently shown on the beaches of the remote Cocos Keeling Islands. According to the study, the trash included an estimated 373,000 toothbrushes and 977,000 shoes.
Jennifer Lavers, an Australian marine biologist, conducts the research. She tells NPR that she’s in awe by the amount of trash there. Also, how so much is hidden.
Furthermore, she said that the deeper they went, the more plastic they were finding.
In Cocos, a group of 26 tiny islands that are a territory of Australia, plastic items account for over 95% of all debris recorded.
According to the study, 25% of the identifiable items were classified as disposable plastics. This includes toothbrushes, straws, and bags. Furthermore, 93% of all debris present on Cocos Keeling is up to 4 inches below the surface of the land. However, the majority of which (60%) is comprised of micro debris.
Lavers states that this is the first comprehensive study of debris on the small island chain.
An estimated 8 to 12 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean every year. According to reports from The Ocean Conservancy, this is on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that are already in our marine environments.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to know exactly how long plastic will last in the ocean because it’s only been around since the 1950s. However, if left alone, the plastic may remain there for decades, centuries, or even longer.
What can we do?
The study concludes that prevention is critical. We should primarily focus on limiting plastic production and consumption. Additionally, we should practice effective waste management that prevents the entry of plastic items into the ocean.