A nurdle is a small plastic pellet about the size of a lentil which is used to make nearly every plastic product you can think of.
Nurdles are very hard to spot, which means that in order to find them, you really have to look. They are so small that they usually go unnoticed and like all other
plastics, nurdles are often mistaken for food by animals.
On the 10th of October 2017 in Durban, 49 tons of nurdles were lost overboard in a storm. These nurdles travelled down past the Transkei beaches, around Scarborough and Kommetjie beach and are now travelling around and up along the West Coast.
The first nurdle I encountered was while walking along a beach in the Transkei. There, we found two types of nurdles: recycled and non-recycled
nurdles. – There really is no difference between the two, as they are both still plastic.The only difference is that recycled nurdles are made from recycled plastic and they are most commonly yellow, blue or brown in colour.
As we walked along the beach we found more and more nurdles leading towards the dunes and the river. In an hour we had collected half a bottle full of nurdles and we thought the beach was clean. When we came back the next day, we found that the exact place we had cleaned the day before was now filled with nurdles. We realized that not only do the nurdles lie on top of the sand, they lie underneath it as well, and after collecting nurdles for over two hour
s, the bottle was almost full.
At first glance the beach looks completely plastic free, but once you take a closer look, you start to notice all the smaller nurdles and micro plastics that
lie just beneath the surface of the sand.
When an animal eats a nurdle or any plastic, its stomach feels full, so it doesn’t eat any more food. The animal then dies from
starvation because it hasn’t eaten anything besides the plastic, and when the animal starts to decompose, the plastic that it has eaten is left over because plastic takes up to 1000 years to decompose and breakdown.
By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
After this eye opening experience I think that straws and plastic bags shouldn’t be used at all even if needed. There are alternatives that can be used such as bamboo, glass, paper and seaweed straws. Fabric, Paper shopping bags and ReLife dog food shoping bags: https://www.facebook.com/ReLifeCapeTown/
Written by: Isabella Moerdyk