Awful, Terrible Confetti

Plastics make it impossible.

The shit is everywhere. We all know this and, anyone who remembers the fall of microbeads, can vouch for how gross it is to think about millions and billions and trillions and more little plastic things making their way through the world, casually sliding into living things and existing in what should be flesh and blood, the non-synthetic folding itself into the synthetic.

Yet the problem of microbeads is small (Ha!) and part of a larger picture of what scientists are calling “a soup of confetti” of plastics out in the world, making their way into plants and animals and people. Pretty cool right? Absolutely not. I feel like I’m suffocating typing out the words.

The story comes by way of an NPR interview with scientists studying this phenomena. While the whole story is a horrible treat, here’s what the biggest takeaway was for me.

“This happens all the time,” says Thaysen. “We invent something that seems really great and … we don’t think and we become so dependent on it.”

Rochman notes that this kind of research is relatively new; most of the environmental studies on microplastics have come out within the past 10 years.

“The things we don’t know,” she says, are daunting. “What are all the sources where it’s coming from, so that we can think about where to turn it off? And once it gets in the ocean, where does it go? Which is super-important because then we can understand how it impacts wildlife and humans.”

Sigh. How can we dig ourselves out? Can we? If you aren’t considering what you are consuming – not in your body but what you buy, obtain, and waste – then you might as well go take a bunch of plastic bags and stuff them in a duck’s throat. We need to look at how everything we do affects the world because, well, it does affect the world. It’s not just you and me on this planet, my dude.

Drugged up dirt. Smokey air. Now microscopic plastic in our bodies. Welcome to the shitty present we made for ourselves. Let’s handle ourselves – and the planet – with care.

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