Each square kilometre of the ocean has over 63,000 near-invisible particles of degraded plastic – all of which has the potential to enter our food chain and damage our health.
So in a bid to highlight the "threats" posed by marine litter, and smash gender stereotypes in the process, an all-female crew have just embarked on a mission to sail the British seas and rid it of trash.
The team, comprising 14 women from ten different countries, includes scientists, artists, filmmakers, students, business women, psychologists and environmentalists – as well as experienced sailors.
Their Round Britain sail will take 30 days and will incorporate environmental events in London, Belfast, Edinburgh, Plymouth, Cardiff, Arran and Stornoway.
The voyage, ran by the all-women sailing firm eXXpedition, hopes to explore the links between single-use plastics and the toxic pollutants and chemicals that enter our food chain each year.
We see the "obvious impact of plastic and toxic pollution in more remote parts of the planet," co-founder Emily Penn said, "but what is clear is that pollution is coming from land – the UK included."
"We need to expose these issues and raise consciousness of the work to be done to solve them here in the UK."
In 2016, a Government inquiry into microplastics brought the threats posed by marine litter to wider public attention.
But as Plymouth University marine litter expert, Professor Richard Thompson explains: "There is still a great deal of work needed to understand the full scale of the problem".
He said we need "potential solutions that take both economic and environmental factors into account" and that the eXXpedition voyage can "certainly make a positive contribution to that work."
Although it has seen progressive improvements over the years, women still only make up around 13% of the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) workforce.
eXXpedition wants to erode this "underrepresentation" as well as exploring the impact pollution has on women's health – as most studies tend to be male-focused.
Last year, the team became the first crew to sail the Caribbean sea in search of marine litter – their data is now being used by the UN to help reduce plastics and toxic pollution in the region.