Henderson Island is an island in the South Pacific, somewhere between New Zealand and Chile. It is very far away from everyone and everything in the world. It is a UNESCO heritage site and apparently one of the world’s largest marine reserves. It is uninhabited – nobody lives there. So how could it then be one of the most polluted places on earth?
Researcher Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania in Australia and her research partner Alexander Bond estimate that there are 38 million pieces of plastic on the beaches of Henderson. These items are from Russia, the United States, South America, Europe, Japan and China. This is waste that has wound up in the sea, where it floats along until it gets to a circular ocean current called the South American Gyre. This current deposits it on the beaches of Henderson.
Plastic is dangerous because it is not biodegradable. It doesn’t decompose into natural substances that the earth can absorb. It is also dangerous to burn plastic as it releases harmful chemicals. It collects in the oceans and destroys marine life.
So what can we do about this?
We use a lot of plastic in our everyday lives – plastic bags, toys, packaging, cups, straws, snack boxes, home appliances – the list goes on. We can stop using so much plastic – not drink from straws, eat less packaged foods, buy less bottled water, use less plastic bags. Let’s work together to keep our oceans, beaches and environment clean!