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The Environmental Impact of Nurdles

The Environmental Impact of Nurdles - Mason & Greens

I know what you're thinking, what even is a nurdle and how could something with such a cute name be wrecking havoc on our environment and ecosystems? 

A nurdle is a teeny tiny bead of plastic that serves as the raw material in plastic production.  About 5mm round in size, these things are super small and are the biggest pollution problem our planet has ever seen. 

[Scott Paulsen Photography - GETTY IMAGES]


Soda water bottlE - 1,005 nurdles
Toothbrush - 665 nurdles
Small grocery bag - 174 nurdles
Produce bag - 86 nurdles
Quart size ziplock bag - 314 nurdles
Soda water bottle cap - 95 nurdles
Contact case - 307 nurdles
Yogurt cup - 357 nurdles


The Worlds Biggest Polluters

To supply the global market with enough nurdles to feed our plastic addiction, billions of these tiny beads are produced and shipped world wide annually.  It's when these nurdles are shipped, either by land or by sea, that we see the biggest spills of these pollutants. 

Nurdles, being the raw material for plastics, contain all the same toxic chemicals we've come to know and love (Not!) in our every day plastics.  BPA's, phthalates and flame retardants just to name a few.  When large spills of these pellets happen they carry all those chemicals with them right into our waterways. 

Their Impact On Our Oceans 

Nurdles can easily end up in our waterways and oceans so much so that's it's estimated that over 230,000 nurdles pollute our oceans each year!  They get there from spills off of tanker ships, flying off trucks during transportation or even right from the factories producing these things.  

Once in the ocean it's almost impossible to clean these things up.  Not only are they tiny but they become even smaller as they begin to break down while in the ocean.  Some stay in the ocean forever while a whole lot more wash up on our beaches.  Chances are, you've sat in sea of nurdles but were none the wiser because they look just like tiny grains of sand after they've been broken down so much. 


Nurdles Are Deadly To Wildlife

Now these nurdles aren't just polluting the ocean and our beaches, they're destroying wildlife and their ecosystems.  Marine wildlife like fish, seabirds and crustaceans often eat the nurdles because they closely resemble food to them.  They can't tell the difference between a tiny plastic pellet and fish eggs.  Once in their system, their digestive tract can't break down the plastic and they end up dying from bellies full of this manmade material.  

Here's something scary to think about.  If billions of these plastic pellets are in our oceans and fish and wildlife are mistaking them for food and eating them and then we humans eat the fish who eat the plastic.....dun dun dun! 

That Fact Is Even Scarier When Followed By This Tidbit 

It's thought that plastics have taken up residence in all the major filtering organs of the human body. YIKES!  

You can see why nurdles should be more commonly known and talked about and more needs to be done to keep them out of our waterways.  Living a life with less plastic isn't just about being environmentally conscious, it's about taking hold of your health and the health of our ecosystems. 


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