Last updated on Jan 21st, 2021 at 02:58 pm

Plastic, assumed to be indestructible, has been found to decompose surprising quickly in the ocean where it releases potentially toxic substances.

From plastic shopping bags to cooldrink straws, tons of plastic waste makes its way into the oceans killing marine life that becomes entangled in the waste or mistakes it for food. Itâ??s why Hayley McLellan, Two Oceans Aquarium Senior Bird Trainer, has been urging South Africans to support a petition to ban the plastic shopping bag.

The first study to investigate the long-term effects of plastic waste in the oceans supports Hayleyâ??s urgency to reduce plastic waste. According to the research, polystyrene begins to decompose within one year and releases components detectable in the parts-per-million range. The ocean provides us with 50 – 70% of the world’s oxygen and is the number one source of protein for more than a billion people. The fact that it could be contaminated with hazardous chemicals is a serious concern!

So what can we do? We can all actively reduce our own plastic consumption, recycle plastic packaging and make picking up litter a habit.

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Sources: American Chemical Society and One World Ocean