Explore the story of plastic pollution in the marine environment, and find out some of the solutions you can get involved in.

Exhibit in the Core

Featuring skateboards, swimwear, and surfboard fins made of recycled plastics, the Eden Blue exhibit explores the story of plastic pollution in our seas, and highlights innovative solutions to reducing it.

Amongst the objects you can also spot an Eden ‘ecoboard’ surfboard, made from recycled polystyrene, flax cloth and bio resin.

The display shares ideas on what we can all do to stem the tide of plastics entering our seas, from campaigns tackling the issue to things we can do as individuals, communities and businesses.

Marine plastic pollution – what’s the problem?

What's the issue?
Some 8 million tons of plastics ‘leak’ into the oceans every year, causing harm to marine wildlife – and to humans. There are floating patches of ‘plastic soup’ that have been gathered together by currents out in the wild oceans, and microplastics have even been found in Arctic ice, as well as in the deepest parts of our oceans. 

Where does it come from?
80% of this plastic comes from land – for example, as litter on beaches, as occasional sewage overflow or as rubbish washed downstream, particularly in countries with poor waste management systems.

Also, tiny pellets used in the plastics industry – known as 'nurdles' – escape into the sea through storm drains. These are the colourful little 'mermaid’s tears' scattered on shorelines worldwide.

Another 20% comes from shipping vessels and fishing boats. Fishing nets find their way into the sea from boats – known as ‘ghost nets’ – which entangles sea life. And when nurdles are transported by ship to be molded into products, they can end up overboard. 

Surfers Against Sewage have produced a really good infographic of this.

What harm does it cause?
Birds, fish and cetaceans get entangled in nets, and they also often mistake plastic for food. Ingested plastic litter has been reported in over 250 marine species. 

Even larger pieces of plastic are broken down into particles by sunlight, wind and tides – and some plastics start off microscopic anyway, as microbeads in beauty and personal care products (like showergels, facial wash, scrubs and toothpastes). 

When fish mistake tiny pieces of plastic for food, this is passed up the food chain – right up to humans. So it is definitely our problem. 

What are the solutions?

  • Use less plastic, particularly single-use (disposable) plastics – try Less Plastic's nine tips below. Or take up the Marine Conservation Society’s #plasticchallenge.
  • Choose cotton buds with a paper stick instead of the plastic ones and join the #switchthestick campaign.
  • Avoid beauty products containing microbeads – typically facial scrubs, shower gels and sun creams. Beat the Microbead has a list of ingredients to look out for.
  • Join organised beach cleans or do your own – even two minutes will do! Visit #2minutebeachclean to see how it works and join a global community of beach cleaners.
  • Join a local, national or international group trying to tackle marine debris through beach cleans or campaigns like introducing new deposit return schemes on plastic bottles.
  • If you’re in a job that involves designing things, seek ways to close the plastic loop. We’re inspired by Interface’s Net-Work's scheme, which is taking marine litter out of our ocean and off our beaches and upcycling it into more valuable products. This helps saves marine life and reduces the need for raw materials.
  • Keep innovating – check out this washbag for example, designed to capture synthetic microfibres. 

Read more about the marine plastic problem and solutions in an Eden Magazine article online

The BLUE exhibit, revealed at our 2016 Festival of Hope, is a collaboration between Eden, Surfdome, Riz, Fourth Element, and Sustainable Surf.