Due to both interstate and overseas commitments, we will be closing for the rest of 2019. We're sad too, but we will be back up and running and processing orders in mid February 2020.
Have a beautiful end to this year and start to the next. See you all soon!
We are so excited to be able to now offer free shipping Australia-wide on all orders!
Head on over to our store and check out all of the goodies on offer
You've asked and we've listened - we have now made it even easier to order via our Etsy store. We have fixed our postage to $5 within Australia, no matter how big your order ($10 international).
Have a look around, we'd love to hear from you.
Photograph: Ryan Lawler, Newport Coastal Adventure, 2017.
The threat of marine plastics is no new thing. For decades it’s been overlooked and ignored. In 1974, a member of the Council of the British Plastics Federation and a Fellow of the Plastics Institute stated, “plastics litter is a very small proportion of all litter and causes no harm to the environment except as an eyesore” (1). Fast forward 40 years and we are becoming more aware of just how “harmless” plastic pollution is and how far reaching the detrimental effects of plastic are. But how much of this is fact and how much is hype? Here are the facts.
Plastic pollution is ubiquitous throughout the marine environment. In a 7-year study spanning from 2007 – 2013, scientists were able to estimate that 5.25 trillion particles of plastic weighing 268, 940 tonnes existed within the world’s five gyres (2). That doesn’t sound too good, I hear you say. But what exactly does that figure look like? Put into perspective, this is the equivalent of 45,000 African elephants, over 4,000 army tanks, or 2,000 of the world’s largest animal – the blue whale. It’s almost 17,000 fully packed public buses. If that still doesn’t help, imagine those buses lined up end to end and side by side. This would cover the area of almost 1000 AFL footy ovals. Then add to that the exponential increase in plastic production and marine pollution that’s occurred since (this number is expected to reach 250 million tonnes by 2025 (3)). And that’s floating around in one of the most important ecosystems on Earth, one that interacts with the atmosphere to regulate our climate (4), that stores huge amounts of our ever-growing carbon dioxide emissions (5, 6), that creates over half of the world’s oxygen (7), and that is home to a vast amount of Earth’s plants and animals.
Much of the debris that pollutes our marine environment is nonpoint source, that is, it cannot be attributed to a specific location or time (8). Whether from land-based sources or those on the seas, intentionally and unintentionally discarded plastic debris makes it into our oceans. Ocean gyres, those great big current systems that span our oceans and are vital for the movement of nutrients among other things across our globe, also shift and concentrate debris in different oceans. They carry our waste – from rubber sandals and toothbrushes to plastic bags and balloons, from one continent to the next and inadvertently marine life gets caught up in the mix. While the impacts of plastic pollution on our ocean’s ecosystems are starting to emerge, there is increasing evidence of the threat to marine life (9). So how exactly does plastic pollution affect the plants and animals of our underwater world?
Sadly and all-to-often, we are witnessing the obvious and deleterious effects on marine life. We turn to social media and see emotive images of seahorses clutching cotton buds rather than seagrass and videos of plastic cutlery being removed from turtles’ nostrils as they seem to gasp with relief. But how does this happen?
Ingestion and entanglement spans the food web, from the tiny zooplankton at the base of the food chain to the largest fish – the whale shark. Unlike humans that can (generally) distinguish between food and foe, wildlife are unaware of the existence of man’s artificial creations. Plastic can mimic natural prey items in its appearance. Plastic bags when floating in open water can seem jellyfish-like, pieces of faded plastic can look identical to cuttlefish bones. In some species, plastic ingestion has been reported in more than 80% of sampled individuals (10).
And like us, animals are curious creatures. You know what they say about curiosity and the cat? The same can be said for marine creatures and interactions with our trash. In 1997, a comprehensive list of marine species known to be impacted by entanglement and ingestion was compiled identifying over 250 species (11). This showed that marine debris doesn’t discriminate. Turtles, seabirds, whales, dolphins, sharks, seals and sea lions, manatees, dugongs, sea otters, fish, crustaceans have all been caught up in our waste. They are either drawn to or accidentally entangled in active or discarded netting, rope and fishing line, which continues to fish as more and more animals are attracted (12). And sadly it’s not just fishing gear that catches marine wildlife. All-too-often animals are becoming trapped by items of convenience – packing loops and bands, bottle rings, plastic bags, rubber bands that strangle, disfigure and tie down our oceans (eg. 12, 13). Not so convenient huh.
And like we said, that’s the obvious effects. In addition to these confronting and oh-so-real nasty impacts, many more are lurking in the shadows. Organic pollutants (we’re talking polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs – toxic man-made chemicals that were manufactured until banned in 1975 (14)) and trace metals like lead are attracted to plastic as it floats around the ocean which, once ingested, can leach into an animal’s bloodstream (15). Sounds pretty nasty, right? And so is the suite of health issues that can ensue. Stomach ulcers, liver damage, neurological and reproductive effects just to name a few (15). But this isn’t just the bigger, charismatic animals we like to spot through binoculars or see porpoising alongside our boats. These chemicals can be consumed by the tiniest of organisms, transferred and magnified throughout the foodweb as they are eaten by ever larger predators (16), many of which we serve our families up for dinner. See where we’re going here?
Then there’s the multitude of invasive and pest species – the hangers-on and hitch-hikers that ride on their floating plastic taxis, the debris that no longer wants to float around on currents but sinks to the sea floor and smothers our bottom-dwellers (12), and the effects plastic and its contaminants are having on our planet’s energy makers phyto- and zooplankton (10,17).
Basically, plastic pollution isn’t just a harmless eyesore. It’s not something that has just come into existence. And it doesn’t just affect our oceans. It affects us all. From the animals we find ourselves privileged to share our planet with, to the food we eat and the climate and air we rely on for life, the choices we make impact us all. While the solution to this ever-expanding problem seems both out of reach and out of sight, the responsibility is falling on us to make change. Because without it… we don’t even want to imagine that world.
What you can do:
Reduce plastic use and choose plastic-free alternatives where available
Reduce waste and dispose of what you do have appropriately
Recycle where possible and compost food waste to reduce CO2 creation from landfill
Stop and pick up that piece of litter
Report entangled/injured marine wildlife:
VIC – https://www.wildlife.vic.gov.au/injured-native-wildlife/wildlife-tool
Melbourne Zoo’s AGL Marine Response Unit – 1300 245 678
Whale and Dolphin Emergency Hotline – 1300 136 017
NSW - https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/questions/injured-sick-marine-animal
ORRCA (Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia)
(02) 9415 3333
Australian Seabird Rescue (02) 6686 2852
QLD - https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/plants-animals/reporting
RSPCA – 1300 264 625
NT – https://nt.gov.au/environment/animals/report-injured-wildlife-or-rescue
Parks and Wildlife – (08) 8999 4555 (Darwin)
Fishwatch – 1800 891 136
Wildcare Inc – 0408 885 341 (Darwin)
WA – https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/marine/marine-wildlife
Wildcare Helpline – (08) 9474 9055
TAS - https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/wildlife-management/marine-conservation-program
Marine Conservation Program (MCP) Hotline – 0427 942 537
1. Ferguson, W.C. 1974. Summary. J.J.P. Staudinger (Ed.). 1974. Plastics and the environment. Hutchinson and Co., London. p.2.
2. Erikson, M., Lebreton, L.C.M., Carson, H.S., Thiel, M., Moore, C.J., Borerro, J.C., Galgani, F., Ryan, P.G., Reisser, J. 2014. Plastic pollution in the world’s oceans: more than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250,000 tons afloat at sea. PLoS ONE.
3. Jambeck, J.R., Geyer, R., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T.R., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., Narayan, R., Law, K.L. 2015. Palstic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science. 347, 768-771.
4. Webster, P.J. 1994. The role of hydrological processes in ocean-atmosphere interactions. Rev. Geophys.32, 427-476.
5. Leung, S., Cabré, A., Marinov, I. 2015. A latitudinally banded phytoplankton response to 21st century climate change in the Southern Ocean across the CMIP5 model suite. Biogeosciences. 12, 5715-5734.
6. Sanders, R., Henson, S. 2014. Ecological carbon sequestration in the oceans and climate change. In: Freedman, B. (eds) Global environmental change. Handbook of global environmental pollution, vol. 1. Springer, Dordrecht.
7. Morsink, K. 2017. With every breath you take, thank the ocean. Smithsonian Ocean Portal, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
8. Potters, G. 2013. Marine pollution. In: Clarke, R.B. 2002. Marine pollution (5th ed.), Oxford University Press.
9. Derraik, J.G.B. 2002. The pollution of the marine environment by plastic debris: a review. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 44, 842-852.
10. Gallo, F., Fossi, C., Weber, R., Santillo, D., Sousa, J., Ingram, I., Nadal, A., Romano, D. 2018. Marine litter plastics and microplastics and their toxic chemicals components: the need for urgent preventative measures. Environ. Sci. Eur. 30, 1-14.
11. Laist, D.W. 1997. Impacts of marine debris: entanglement of marine life in marine debris including a comprehensive list of species with entanglement and ingestion records. In: Coe, J.M., Rogers, D.B. (eds) Marine debris. Springer Series on Environmental Management. Springer, New York, NY.
12. Gregory, M.R. 2009. Environmental implications of plastic debris in marine settings – entanglement, ingestion, smothering, hangers-on, hitch-hiking and alien invasions. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 364, 2013-2025.
13. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 2014. Report on the entanglement of marine species in marine debris with an emphasis on species in the United States. NOAA Marine Debris Program. Silver Spring, MD. 28 pp.
14. Department of the Environment and Energy (DEE). 2014. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). Australian Government, Commonwealth of Australia. .
15. Lavers, J.L., Bond, A.L., Hutton, I. 2014. Plastic ingestion by Flesh-footed shearwaters (Puffinus carneipes): implications for fledgling body condition and the accumulation of plastic-derived chemicals. Environ. Pollut. 187, 124-129.
16. Colabuono, F.I., Taniguchi, S., Montone, R.C. 2010. Polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides in plastics ingested by seabirds. Mar. Poll. Bull. 60, 630-634.
17. Besseling, E., Wang, B., Lürling, M., Koelmans, A.A. 2014. Nanoplastic affects growth of S. oliquus and reproduction of D. magna. Environ. Sci. Technol. 48, 12336-12343.
We are so excited to announce that Feathers Yoga Room in Clarkson is now stocking our plastic-free alternative products including beeswax and vegan wraps, wax bags, and reusable produce bags. Next time you pop in to get your zen on check out our goodies!
31 Ningaloo Bend,
Perth, WA 6030
Photograph: Feathers Yoga Room.
Photo: Outagamie County Recycling & Solid Waste, 2018.
We’ve all heard the stats – every piece of plastic that has ever been created still remains today. Plastics are designed to have a long life span. Many of the advantageous properties of plastics, such as their toughness and durability, present challenges when they are released into the environment. So what happens to them when our use for them ends? Can they be recycled? And are any plastics truly biodegradable?
Plastics contain a complex mix of stabilisers that prevent them from degrading too rapidly (1). While this is great for some things – think of dear Liza and the hole in her bucket – it’s not so great when we are finished with them and want to dispose of them. These stabilisers mean that many common plastics including polypropylene (denoted as PP – found in bottle caps, straws, fabrics) polyethylene (PE – bottles, food wrap, toys), polystyrene (PS – takeaway food containers, disposable cups) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET – water and soft drink bottles, jars) are extremely persistent in the environment (1). They undergo very slow fragmentation where they break down into ever smaller particles eventually becoming microplastics that never go away. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
So now we know what plastics are and why they are grade-A clingers to the Earth, what can we do about it? And are biodegradable plastics the way to go?
Degradable or biodegradable?
In recent years, the word “biodegradable” has become a powerful and appealing marketing term that is very misleading. While biodegradability refers to any organic substance that can be broken down by living microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi into carbon dioxide, water and biomass (2), in most cases, product biodegradability is tested under very specific conditions (2,3). Although suggesting that products break down in this natural and environmentally friendly way, these materials in fact may take far longer to fully break down and still generate large quantities of potentially harmful small particles (4). What’s more, these little micro powerhouses are powerless against many conventional plastics which are resistant against complete microbial attack (5). Add to that the fact that many biodegradable plastics contain metal salts that speed up the break-down process resulting in micro-fragments of plastics AND metals which remain in the environment (2) and we realise that maybe these plastics aren’t so eco-friendly. While some of these products are in fact biodegradable under natural conditions, be wary that this may not be the case for all.
Now, a tip for young players – biodegradable is not to be confused with degradable products. While the addition of bio- to the front of this word seems like an insignificant detail, the two are actually very different. Degradability refers to any physical or chemical change in a polymer’s properties. It relates to compounds that break down into simpler compounds by stages. That is, a large piece of degradable plastic can breakdown into ever smaller pieces of plastic.
But what is bioplastic? And is it any better?
Research has been focusing on the development of novel plastics that are derived from biological or renewable resources, rather than petroleum (6), that can be biodegraded (are compostable) in the environment (4). These are known as bio-plastics. Two of the most common materials used to create bioplastics are starch and cellulose which are derived from either corn or sugar cane. While bio-plastics may be the way of the future, we still have a way to go. Some companies will market their products as bioplastics made from plant-based materials however also state that these can only be composed in a commercial facility. Some are also heat sensitive and must be stored out of direct sun and away from heat sources. And contrary to popular belief, while bioplastics may be composed (*see previous sentence regarding this), they cannot be recycled. Those that can be are done so chemically and the method at this stage is not yet commercially viable. Know those clear disposable cups and packaging that look and feel like plastic but have eco-friendly logos? Just sayin’.
Confused yet? So are we!
But don’t fear! Put simply, compostable is the way to go. This refers to any organic material that can truly biodegrade, disintegrate and is non eco-toxic. That is, it can break down into the goodness of carbon dioxide, water and biomass, it does so rapidly so that after three months of composting no more than 10% remains, the breakdown process does not produce any toxic material and the compost can sustain plant growth (2). Just think, if natural goodies are going in, natural goodies will come out. But remember, if you decide to go compostable, ensure you follow through on your good intentions and dispose of correctly. Your compost bin and garden will love you. And so will the world.
What you can do:
Photograph by Jonathan Alcorn, Bloomberg/Getty
It's no surprise, we are living in the age of plastic. From toys to packaging, cosmetics to clothing, we are surrounded by plastic. Global production of plastics currently exceeds 320 million tonnes each year, with over 40% of this being used for single-use packaging (1). Much of this ends up in our environment and eventually makes its way into the marine world. Recently we have seen images and heard stories of turtles, birds and even whales either becoming entangled in or ingesting plastic debris. Many of us have heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a giant swirling mass of floating rubbish in the middle of the Pacific Ocean described as larger than Texas (2). But fewer of us are aware of the effects of those tiny pieces of plastic covertly lurking in our waters, or that of an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that make up this patch, 94% of these are microplastics (3). So what exactly are microplastics?
What are microplastics?
Microplastics are plastic particles < 5mm. Considered most abundant and most hazardous to marine organisms, microplastics are ubiquitous, reported in our oceans from the poles (4,5) to the Equator (6). The vast majority of these are fibrous particles resulting from either the breakdown of larger items or input in sewerage and wastewater from coastal areas (4). They have been found to be consumed by many marine organisms from mussels (7,8) and crabs (9) to large predatory fish (10) and whales (11). Scarily, nanoplastics (plastic particles <100nm) have been found inside zooplankton (12), the tiny organisms at the base of the foodweb upon which all animals diets are built upon. As larger animals feed on the smaller ones, microplastics are transferred, accumulating with each step in the food chain (13,14). But microplastics aren’t only present in our oceans. They are all around us and are even inside us.
Microplastics and humans
Many studies have shown that humans are exposed to microplastics through multiple sources. They are present in our diet in foods such as seafood (15,16), sugar (17), sea salt (18,19,20), bottled (21) and tap (20) water – even beer! (20,22), they float around in our atmosphere in the forms of fibres released through the wearing of tyres and road surfaces (23), and are in contact with our skin as microfibers from synthetic fabrics (24) and cosmetics (25,26). In a recent study conducted by the Medical University of Vienna and Environment Agency Austria, human stool samples from participants from Europe, Japan and Russia were tested for a variety of plastics. On average, 20 particles of microplastic were found in each 10g of waste. Although a small scale study, the authors estimate that more than 50% of the world’s population might have microplastics in their stool. What’s more, other studies have found that microplastics are capable of translocating across cells and entering into the bloodstream, lymphatic system and accumulating in organs such as the liver (27,28,29). As Chelsea Rochman, an ecologist at the University of Toronto says, “For me, it shows were are eating our waste – mismanagement has come back to us on our dinner plates.” Well said.
What can you do about microplastics?
1 Wright, S.L., Kelly, F.J. 2017. Plastic and human health: a micro issue? Environmental Science and Technology. 51(2).
2 Parker, L. 2018. Planet or Plastic? The Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t what it think it is. National Geographic. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/great-pacific-garbage-patch-plastics-environment/
3 Lebreton, L., Slat, B., Ferrari, F., Sainte-Rose, B., Aitken, J., Marthouse, R., Hajbane, S., Cunsolo, S., Schwars, A., Levivier, A., Noble, K., Debeljak, P., Maral, H., Schoeneich-Argent, R., Brambini, R., Reisser, J. 2018. Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic. Nature, Scientific Reports 8(4666).
4 Lusher, A.L., Tirelli, V., O’Connor, I., Officer, R. 2015. Microplastics in Arctic polar waters: the first reported values of particles in surface and subsurface samples. Sci Rep. 5: 14947.
5 Obbard, R.W., Sadri, S, Wong, Y.Q., Khitun, A., Baker, I., Thompson, R.C. 2014. Global warming releases microplastic legacy in Arctic Sea ice. Earth’s Future. 315-320.
6 Ivar do Sul, J.A., Costa, M.F., Barletta, M., Cysneiros, F.J.A. 2013. Pelagic microplastics around an archipelago of the Equatorial Atlantic. Mar Poll Bull. 75, 305-309.
7 Browne, M.A., Dissananyake, A., Galloway, T.S., Lowe, D.M., Thompson, R.C. 2008. Ingested microplastic translocation to the circulatory system of the mussel, Mytilus edulis (L..) Environ. Sci. Technol. 42, 5026-5031.
8 Van Cauwenberghe, L., Claessens, M., Vandegehuchte, M.B., Janssen, C.R. 2015. Microplastics are taken up by mussels (Mytilus edulis) and lugworms (Arenicola marina) living in natural habitats. Enviro. Poll. 199, 10-7.
9 Farrell, P., Nelson, K. 2013. Trophic level transfer of microplastic: Mytilus edulis (L.) to Carcinus maenas (L.). Environ. Poll. 177, 1-3.
10 Romeo, T., Pietro, B., Pedà, C., Consoli, P., Andaloro, F., Fossi, M.C. 2015. First evidence of presence of plastic debris in stomach of large pelagic fish in the Mediterranean Sea. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 95, 358-361.
11 Fossi, M.C., Panti, C., Guerranti, C., Coppola, D., Giannetti, M., Marsili, L., Minutoli, R. 2012. Are baleen whales exposed to the threat of microplastics? A case study of the Mediterranean fin whale Balaenoptera physalus. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 64, 2374-2379.
12 Cole, M., Lindeque, P., Fileman, E., Halsband, C., Goodhead, R., Moger, J., Galloway, T.S. 2013. Microplastic ingestion by zooplankton. Environ. Sci. Technol. 47, 6646-6655.
13 Mattsson, K., Ekvall, M.T., Hansson, L.A., Linse, S., Malmendal, A., Cedervall, T. 2015. Altered behaviour, physiology, and metabolism in fish exposed to polystyrene nanoparticles. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 553-561.
14 Nelms, S.E., Galloway, T.S>, Godley, B.J., Jarvis, D.S>, Lindeque, P.K. 2018. Investigating microplastic trophic transfer in marine top predators. Environ. Poll. 238, 999-1007.
15 Santillo, D., Miller, K., Johnston, P. 2017. Microplastics as contaminants in commercially important seafood species. Intergr. Environ. Assess. Manag. 13, 516-521.
16 Boerger, C.M., Lattin, G.L., Moore, S.L., Moore, C.J. 2010. Plastic ingestion by planktivorous fishes in the North Pacific Central Gyre. Mar. Poll. Bull. 60, 2275-2278.
17 Liebezeit, G., Liebezeit, E. 2013. Non-pollen particulates in honey and sugar. Food Addit. Contam. Part A Chem. Anal. Control Expo. Risk Assess. 30, 2136-2140.
18 Yang, D., Shi, H., Li, L., Li, J., Jabeen, K., Kolandhasamy, P. 2015. Microplastic pollution in table salts from China. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 13622-13627.
19 Karami, A., Golieskardi, A., Choo, C.K., Larat, V., Galloway, T.S., Salamatinia, B. 2017. The presence of microplastics in commercial salts from different countries. Sci. Rep. 7, 1-9.
20 Kosuth, M., Mason, S.A., Wattenberg, E.V. 2018. Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt. PLoS ONE 13, 1-18.
21 Schymanski, D., Goldbeck, C., Humpf, H.U., Fürst, P. 2018. Analysis of microplastics in water by micro_Raman spectroscopy: release of plastic particles from different packaging into mineral water. Water Research. 12, 154-162.
22 Liebezeit, G., Liebezeit, E. 2014. Synthetic particles as contaminants in German beers. Food Addit. Contam., Part A. 31, 1574-1578.
23 Kole, P.J., Löhr, A.J., Van Belleghem, F.G.A.J., Ragas, A.M.J. 2017. Wear and tear of tyres: a stealthy source of microplastics in the environment. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 14, 1-31.
24 Carney Almroth, B.M., Åström, L., Roslund, S., Petersson, H., Johansson, M., Persson, N.K. 2018. Quantifying shedding of synthetic fibres from textiles; a source of microplastics released into the environment. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. 25, 1191-1199.
25 Gouin, T., Avalos, J., Brunning, I., Brzuska, K., de Graaf, J., Kaumanns, J., Toning, T., Meyberg, M., Rettinger, K., Schlatter, H., Thomas, J., van Welie, R., Wolf, T. 2015. Use of microplastic beads in cosmetic products in Europe and their estimated emissions to the North Sea environment. SOFW-Journal. 141, 40-46.
26 Napper, I.E., Bakir, A., Rowland, S.J., Thompson, R.C. 2015. Characterisation, quantity and sorptive properties of microplastics extracted from cosmetics. Mar. Poll. Bull. 99, 178-185.
27 Hodges, G.M., Carr, E.A., Hazzard, R.A., Carr, K.E. 1995. Uptake and translocation of microparticles in small intestine. Morphology and quantification of particle distribution. Dig. Dis. Sci. 40, 967-975.
28 Rieux, A.D., Ragnarsson, E.G.E., Gullberg, E., Préat, V., Schneider, Y.J., Artursson, P. 2005. Transport of nanoparticles across an in vitro model of the human intestinal follicle associated epithelium. Eur. J. Pharm. Sci. 25, 455-465.
29 Volkheimer, G. 1975. Hematogenous dissemination of ingested polyvinyl chloride particles. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 31, 164-171.
Here at The Ocean Calls we get asked so many questions about our products - what are beeswax wraps? What can they be used for? What are they made of? What's a reusable produce bag? You name it, we get asked it!
So we've put together a list of all of the most frequently asked questions that we get.
If you have a question that you can't find answered here, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you asap. We also love marine-related questions too so fire away!
Hello and welcome to our new website! Thank you so much for visiting :) Please feel free to have a wander through our site and check out our plastic-free products. Please check back with us for news on upcoming markets and products and check us out on Instagram for all things marine.