When the Ikkatsu Project started up almost 10 years ago, it was all about tsunami debris. It got more nuanced and scholarly at some point fairly soon after that, but the focus was narrow and shallow to start. Once you begin to look at the issues around plastic in the water, it doesn’t take long to see that it is all connected; abandoned fishing nets drifting on the high seas, plastic bottles and and buoys deep in the sea grass above high tide and foam particles in the wrack line.
What we didn’t really see then was the really small pieces. Work on microplastics was not well publicized at the time and most people, even most of us that thought about marine debris fairly regularly, didn’t understand the importance of microplastics back then. It would have been fringe talk to suggest that humans were somehow ingesting plastic, that plastic particles so small they couldn’t be seen without a microscope could pass through cell walls and take up residence throughout our bodies.
And even if we could have conceived of all the damage that these tiny particles do inside our bodies, we never would have believed it was done intentionally. But there it is.
(Headline and photo above are more than a year old. Presented for effect, not as breaking news.)