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What the hell?…Great Lakes awash in plastic beads

Now I’m really pissed. Disappointed, too. Plastic is loose and unconfined, and that is never a good thing.

Plastic - the bane of our existence. Useful purposes, yes, but unmanaged, it's a threat to our water and, eventually, to us.

Plastic – the bane of our existence. Useful purposes, yes, but unmanaged, it’s a threat to our water and, eventually, to us. We just don’t get it.

Researchers are seining in plastic beads – some microscopic in size – afloat in many of the Great Lakes. In a fine bit of reportage from John Flesher of the Associated Press (Google “John Flesher”, “Associated Press,” “plastic litter bits“), microplastic pollution is just the latest environmental disaster to befall the source of nearly one-fifth of the world’s fresh water.

Experts say most of the particulates are too small to be seen but can be seined and scientists are at work now to see if fish are eating the contaminants.

But the AP’s Flesher describes a “smoking gun”: what scientists know and suspect is that among the bits of plastic are small beads, many of which are perfectly round and visible only under a microscope, and are often featured in personal care products “such as facial and body washes and toothpaste.” Some large companies, he reports, “have agreed to phase them out.”

Damn it, can’t humans – you, me, citizens of other nations, companies and manufacturers – do anything right? This just continues to light a fire under me to continue to do what I do. Every bit of plastic scooped up will be an even greater victory. Even though nothing I snare will end up from Lake Michigan to Lake Ontario – and certainly none of it will be these tiny beads – the potential exists for Charlotte, North Carolina flotsam to reach the Catawba River and onward to the Atlantic Ocean where floating plastic often collects in giant masses where it is consumed by birds and fish.

It’s enough to send me for an anti-acid. I hope it’s not in a plastic bottle.

About Dave Bradley (254 Articles)
I'm the one behind two totally unrelated blogs; one on 15 years of writing a weekly letter to my kids (plus other recipients), the other on my localized environmental responsibility. I'm a writer by trade and both endeavors are accepted practice for me. As for the letters, my adult children Ellen and Reid may have seen letters as corny at one point, but it's accepted practice for them, too, to find something in their mailbox other than bills and junk mail. Email and texting don't do a lot for me for a lot of different reasons. Snail mail has its place in the communicative world so as long as they keep selling stamps, I'm buying. As for 'Pick Up Your Path' and the environment, I advocate what citizens can do themselves to take a direct hand in their neighborhood environment. But Pick Up Your Path is also a general environmental blog. It may be largely about litter and trash, but both of those are just one element of the total environmental picture.

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