Daniel Hansson is an oceanographer at the The Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment. Knowing the wonders of the sea, he became worried about the threats against it, and started a project to make people avoid using unnecessary plastics in their everyday life. His work can be followed for example through the hash tag #plastriot at Twitter.
In an interview at the web site of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (article in Swedish, can be autotranslated here) he says plastic is a fantastic material – when it’s in the right place. It’s strong, thin, easy and solid.
But there are innumerable examples of the problems plastic causes when it ends up in nature.
Did you for example know that:
- Small fish in the Pacific Ocean eat plastic equivalent to 1 billion plastic bags?
- 98 percent of all the storm birds living around the North Sea have plastic pieces in their stomachs?
- That humans every year dump around three times more kilos of garbage in the seas than the weight of the fish that we take out of it?
- That the amount of cling film produced every year would be enough to cover the whole of Sweden and Norway?
- That plastic has been found frozen inside ice bergs in the Antarctic and at 6000 meters below sea surface in the strait between Greenland and Svalbard?
- That the majority of camels in Dubai die from having eaten plastic bags?
Yes, some quite heavy figures there.
So what can we do to reduce our use of plastic?
The first, and a rather banal step, says Daniel Hansson, would be to stop buying plastic bags every time we go shopping. The average Swede uses about 300 plastic bags every year. Not buying water in plastic bottles is another easy step. And we should think twice before buying plastic toys for our children, since many plastic materials contain chemicals that the children can be exposed to.
But plastics have invaded our lives and it isn’t easy to avoid them totally. Daniel Hansson knows, since he made an experiment himself, counting all the plastic things he used during one day and writing about it on his blog (in Swedish, can be auto translated here).
As a plastic sceptic Daniel Hansson tries to keep plastics at a minimum in his home. Nevertheless, hislist ended up with 92 things, from the pen he wrote with to the vacuum cleaner and his credit card.
”72 percent of all the things I touched today were entirely or partly made of plastic. Am I surprised? No, actually not, unfortunately” he writes.