Legos are colourful, fun and and they can keep you busy for hours, but Legos can also cause huge damage to the environment.
A recent study published by the University of Plymouth in the UK shows how millions of plastic Lego pieces end up in seas and oceans around the world and how these colourful, plastic toys can take up to 1300 years to disintegrate.Some of them were flushed there; one U.K. insurance company estimates that children flushed some 2.5 million Lego pieces down the loo between 2006 and 2016. Other bricks arrived there in 1997, when a wave slammed a cargo ship and dumped 67 containers of Lego bricks — or about 5 million pieces — overboard.
Although the pieces were discoloured and slightly worn down, they seem to have survived their underwater adventure mostly intact, which was surprising even to those who were conducting the study. Based on the level of wear and tear, the scientists were able to estimate that Lego blocks would survive underwater for between 100 – 1300 years!
Legos are made from a material called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), which seems to be a virtually indestructible substance that is really bad for the environment. If you have ever stepped on a piece of Lego, you know just how solid it is! Over the years, Lego has faced a lot of negative publicity for using ABS and has claimed that they will move to using more sustainable materials by 2030, but that might be too late.
How did all these Lego pieces get into the sea anyway?
There are several not-for-profit agencies in the UK that are trying to clear up lost Lego pieces from the sea and from beaches around the country, but unfortunately, it is possible that these popular toy bricks will be washing up on the shore for centuries to come unless we all start to be more aware and start caring for the environment and marine life.