microfibres & plastic


Occasionally I mention on here the increasingly high levels of pollution in our seas and share online forums and campaigns which we may [or may not] believe help. Everyone can help in their own little way especially when visiting the beach and taking home their rubbish. Yet there are all sorts of ways plastic can enter the waters. If you have a fleece jacket for example and wash it, are you amazed how its almost dry when its gone through the wash? But did you know what it leaves behind in the waste water that eventually gets back into our seas? Tiny little microfibres, plastic microfibres that do not biodegrade and are so small they get through the sewage system undetected.                 And this is just one example of micro plastic.

Read more about microfibres here…



Cornish artist Rob Arnold often goes to the beach to collect plastic for art projects but the last time he went he was greeted by so much he had to get help to collect. Luckily he has a homemade separator that sifts the plastic from the sand which he then dries to start sifting again. He cleaned and sifted and dried in the sun  until he had approx 19,600 per litre which equals over 3 million bits of micro plastic. His journey is documented here

This is some of the plastic he sorted [all photos courtesy of Rob Arnold]


Above are sets of lego flippers, there are 240 here and they come from a Lego container spill in 1997, there were 418,000 in the container. Twenty years on and they look like new. Top right are a selection of children’s car and truck wheels and bottom right the remains of Remembrance Day poppies.


Here are mostly children’s toy soldiers and other playful ephemera along with lots of Smartie tops and here’s the thing, the tops were discontinued in 2005 so these have been hanging around in the ocean for 12 years.

Now we have some household items…the ends of cotton buds, again not biodegradable like the cotton. Top right, the tops of sealant tubes and bottom right, fishing beads that are often eaten by fish as they look like fish eggs. Most household items enter the ocean via drains and rivers.


Finally we have golf tees on the left, here is an initiative that produces biodegradable ones and to the right we have that ubiquitous item…the cigarette holder. From the comments under the photo it seems they are popular on the continent!!

This is just a small amount of Rob’s find and the sorry fact is that he found it all at the western end of Whitsand Bay. This though isn’t just about taking your rubbish home so it doesn’t end up in the sea, its also about what’s already in the sea that’s being washed up on beaches all over the world.

Lastly, a great initiative from Plymouth University – an all female crew heading out to test ocean waters for plastic pollution and running awareness events at the same time.



About Ruth

I am an actor and theatre maker, I moved down to the SW of England 19 years ago with my partner and son. Five years ago we bought a chalet on the Rame Peninsula and are fully embracing life of the cliff.
This entry was posted in home, plastic pollution, Travel, Whitsand bay and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to microfibres & plastic

  1. ROZ SYMON says:

    Never stop raising awareness of this insanity! XXX

  2. Rimor et Vagus🗺🌍 says:

    Hi! I really found your post very insightful and I just want to thank you. I had no idea of the extent of the problem!

  3. Jody says:

    I’m sad to say that this is a worldwide problem indeed and it’s growing bigger by the day. We find the same horrible collections on the Mississippi Gulf Coast time after time. Hands across the water to you, Ruth.

  4. Pingback: Plastic pollution via Facebook | seafieldview

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