"Nurdles", the Dangers of Plastics to Our Water.

Since childhood, many of us were taught to recycle and cut the sixpack rings after we were done with them. Many towns have banned plastic bags and mylar balloons, which can end up in the ocean, and are consumed by turtles and marine life. A form of plastic pollution new to me is in the form of "nurdles."

Photograph: Saman Abesiriwardana/Pacific Press/Rex/Shutterstock

 Nurdles are plastic beads that serve as the base for plastic goods. They are melted down with pigments and other additives to make the final product. Your everyday item was likely cast from the same type of bead from a solo cup to your office chair. Where this story gets interesting or upsetting is the wreck of the X-press Pearl. The X-press Pearl was a cargo ship that caught fire and sank off the coast of Shri Lanka. While the chemical spill was significant concern from the wreck, the lasting effects of 87 containers worth of plastic beads have been worse. Sealife, including fish, birds, and whales, consumed these lentil-sized pieces of plastic and died from blockage and starvation. Studies have found that toxins are prevalent on the surface of nurdles, so animals that ingest and safely pass these beads will now spread toxins through the food chain.  

Srilanka's population relies on fishing for food and the economy. Since the spill in May, some 200,000 families have had to stop fishing, according to Hemantha Withanage, Sri Lanka's director of the Centre for Environmental Justice.

 Beyond reducing our reliance on plastics, what can we do? For starters, we can tell the international maritime organization to list nurdles as hazardous cargo. Doing so would impose stricter shipping regulations and require immediate response to spills. While this article wasn't intended to do more than educate about a little known crisis halfway around the world from where I write this, it prompted a broader discussion from my peers in regards to plastics and conservation. I'll leave you with a call to action and a quote from Shawn, the man behind the shades. 

Be aware of how much plastic you are using. When possible reuse and recycle. When out hiking, fishing, or camping, pack out what you pack in. If possible pick up trash from others while in the woods or water. We can be the change thats needed, all it takes is everyone just doing "one more".

"Often people tend to narrow conservation down to hunting or fishing, when in reality, conservation is really about leaving things better than you found it. I try to implement this in every aspect of my life and within Stagger culture, wether it be people or the planet, I hope that I can leave it all a little better than I found it.” -Shawn Elam

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