Last year, the eruptions from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted blocking roads and taking over fields. With it's last eruption on May 8th, 2018, it's been just over a year since the eruption created a new Hawaii beach, Pohoiki.
This black sand beach stretches for approximately 1,000 feet. Since it's birth, Pohoiki has been tested in various different spots along the beach by Nic Vanerzyl, a student of the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Using a solution of zinc chloride, he was able to test the sand by separating plastic from the rest (the plastic floating to the top). Vanerzyl found 21 plastic bits for every 50 grams of sand.
Though the beach looks to be in top, pristine conditions, microplastics are rarely visible to the naked eye. Vanerzyl's studies show a majority of the plastic pieces to be microfibers. Microfibers can enter water from flushed wastewater from washing machines and/or via people swimming. This study goes along with many other studies showing that plastic has been found of some of the world's most remote beaches, untouched by humans.
Studies are still being done on the effects that this plastic pollution will have on human health and wildlife as well as marine ecosystems. However, many studies have found marine life, from whales to larval fish on shore already with stomachs full of plastic. Many people doing beach cleanups, while important and necessary, can't fully see how polluted a beach is due to the microplastics covering the area.
What can we do as a community to raise awareness? What can we do as individuals to make important change?
Please note: Information from this post was gathered via National Geographic.
Jamie is a musician, avid lover of nature, and a dog momma living a more sustainable life each and every day.