The story of small plastic pieces in our marine environment was highlighted at the Plastic Pollution in our Oceans discussions hosted by the Two Oceans Aquarium and the US Consulate General, in Cape Town on 18 July 2017.  Too small to be easily collected but just the right size to be ingested by sea creatures and then by those of us who enjoy seafood.

The small stuff with a big impact includes: micro beads, bottle tops, earbud sticks, straws, sweet wrappers, plastic cutlery, etc.

OverwhelmPlastic sushi from Surfrider foundationed and quite frankly worn down by the growing list of environmental problems I had switched off to microbeads.  Dr Shannon Hampton’s presentation on the impacts of microbeads on our health was like being dumped by a cold ocean wave.  It got my attention.  Micro beads are not an important ingredient in products for humans but are widely used in cosmetics, soaps and toothpaste. In the oceans and inland waters they are a hazardous substance.  Accidentally swallowed by fish and sea life, they accumulate and are then also swallowed by humans when we eat fish and shellfish.

Eating plastic ranges from not great to bad depending on what kind of plastic it is.  But it gets worse.  According to Shannon some of our chemical pollutants – such as DDT – are hydrophobic.  Not wanting to bond with sea water they readily attach themselves to particles floating in the oceans.  Hitchhiking a ride on microbeads they deliver numerous small and accumulating toxic doses to all in the sea and inland water food chain – including us!

Sign the petition “Ban Microbeads in South Africa” for the Sea and for yourself. Here’s the link:

Other small plastics with a big impact that currently by-pass the recyOcean logocle, upcycle or waste disposal systems are:

1 plastic ear bud stalks:  Choose paper ones

2 plastic straws:  Simply don’t use them.

3 plastic cutlery: Carry your own metal cutlery `camping kit.’   Handy for emergencies as well.

4 plastic bottle tops:  Carry your own refillable water bottle. If you have to buy bottled water, then recycle the tops. They are collected at libraries in Cape Town and sold to raise funds for the Smile Foundation.

5 plastic sweet wrappers: Avoid these and lobby your sweet supplier to wrap in plant starch wrappers.

6 plastic sachets of water and energy supplements supplied by marathon organizers:  Be a true sport, avoid these and lobby for plant starch sachets.

7 plastic microbeads:  Choose all your cosmetics without microbeads. A tube of facewash has 300,000 microbeads. Don’t use disposable razors.  For more information watch the 2 minute Story of Stuff on Microbeads Youtube at:

NEWS FLASH: The UK government just proposed the strongest ban on microbeads in the world to date. This is great news for our environment and a positive sign of Britain’s global leadership on ocean plastics.  Read more at:

the UK government has banned ocean-polluting microbeads!

Kim Kruyshaar 07 2017