Want to help clean up the ocean? Then you might want to say goodbye to glitter. That’s what 19 preschools in the United Kingdom did last year. Now scientists are exploring the idea of a bigger ban to help reduce the amount of microplastics that leak into waterways. These tiny pieces of plastic easily wash down drains and are not usually caught by filters.
Once the plastic particles are in the ocean, marine creatures like seabirds, plankton, and shellfish often mistake them for food. Sean Anderson, a professor at California State University, Channel Islands, is following microplastics up the food chain to see how they affect humans. It’s too soon to say. But Anderson thinks awareness about the issue will have a big impact. “It’s unlikely we’ll be able to clean up the oceans with all the stuff that’s in there,” he told TFK. “We need to be focusing on not making the problem any worse.”