Quirks and Quarks, CBC's science program, had a fascinating (and depressing) episode today about the amount of plastic in our oceans. Not just the obvious stuff that we can see, but also the microscopic stuff that is even more harmful. I had no idea that every time we wash our clothes, thousands of bits of long strand polymers from synthetic clothing go into the wash water, and consequently into our streams, lakes, rivers, aquifers and oceans. These particles for a nesting ground for plankton and algae, which are eaten by shellfish and other ocean creatures. Apparently polyester has been found in the cellular tissue of mussels - no study has been done on what it does to the humans who might eat those mussels. You can hear the episode here.
The expert discussing this situation said that, although nothing can be done about the plastic that is already in the ocean, we can "tweak public policy" to prevent more being added to the toxic sludge. That was the really depressing part. She's right of course, all we have to do is stop using plastic, but considering it is a major component of pretty much all consumer goods, and that the power of the oil, plastic and manufacturing corporations would quash any suggestion of change, I think it would take more like total world revolution than a "tweak".
But, we can start by not wearing polyester. And check out Beth Terry's My Plastic-Free Life, a wonderful resource for eliminating plastic from your life.