How the Twitter tide of plastic lost at sea has come to define our age | Tim Adams

How the Twitter tide of plastic lost at sea has come to define our age | Tim Adams

An artist’s images of tiny toys and figurines dumped in the ocean highlight the wasteful ways we have to change

Social media was made for projects like Tracey Williams’s #LegoLostatSea, which anecdotally charts the plastic that has been dumped in the ocean in the past 70 years. Williams began her mission after becoming obsessed with the container of 4.8m Lego pieces that spilled from a cargo ship 20 miles off Land’s End in 1997, and which continue to be washed up on Cornwall’s beaches every day. The fact that many of those Lego sets had a nautical theme – mini plastic octupuses and divers’ flippers are common finds – makes them a perfect metaphor for the 8m tonnes of plastic that end up in the oceans each year. At current rates, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. A special report in the journal Science last week launched a campaign for governments to commit to phase out “virgin” plastic production in the next 20 years. Even if that happens, our age will be known for centuries to come for its detritus: the Happy Meal figurines and plastic bottles and Lego snorkellers that come and go on every tide.

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