Ep.2: Plastic, the size of a virus

In this episode of the Plastisphere, Anja goes on a lab tour with Alexandra ter Halle from Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse. The chemist and her team were the first to detect nanoplastic in the open ocean – plastic so small that it is comparable in size to a virus. What do we know about these very tiny pieces, and how do researchers try to detect and understand them?

Music: Dorian Roy and Blue Dot Sessions sessions.blue/
Cover art: Maren von Stockhausen
Thanks to: Ines Blaesius, Luisa Beck, Tim Howard, Melanie Bergmann, Deborah Blum and the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT

>>>Transcript, links and pictures to this episode

Ep.2 Transcript: Plastic, the size of a virus

Plastic, the size of a virus

Music by Dorian Roy

Anja narrates
Welcome to the Plastisphere. The podcast on plastic, people and the planet. My name is Anja Krieger. In this podcast, I invite you to accompany me while I explore our complex entanglement with plastics, and how we can untangle it. I will bring you the insights of scientists, activists and innovators from the global community working to understand and solve issues of plastic pollution.

One worry for many people is microplastic. Scientists have found it in the stomachs of all kinds of animals, even the ones we eat, like mussels. Salt can also contain plastic, when it’s harvested near the sea. Some of these tiny pieces come from bigger chunks of trash that float in the oceans, which break up over time. Others enter the environment from our bathrooms, when people flush shower gels, peelings or make-up containing plastics down the drain. And washing machines can leak thousands of microfibers from synthetic pants and shirts into the water. Even cars leave microplastic behind, when they race down the streets, and their tires produce a fine dust.

But when plastic breaks up, it doesn’t just stop with microplastic. There are even smaller bits called nanoplastics. In this episode, you’ll get to meet a researcher who’s been studying plastic at this extremely fine level. Continue reading “Ep.2 Transcript: Plastic, the size of a virus”

Ep.1: Welcome to the Plastisphere

In this introduction to the Plastisphere podcast, Anja takes the listener on a journey back in time, from a remote plastic beach on the Big Island of Hawaii to the factory of a big chemical producer making bioplastics. She shares what she has learned about the issue of plastic pollution in the past years.

Music: Dorian Roy and Blue Dot Sessions
Cover art: Maren von Stockhausen
Thanks to: Ines Blaesius and Susie Kahlich of the artipoeus podcast
German article on RiffReporter – thanks to Marcus Anhäuser

>>Transcript of this episode

Ep.1 Transcript: Welcome to the Plastisphere

Kamilo is famous for large amounts of plastic that wash up here.

Welcome to the Plastisphere

Sound of a wave

Terry Shibuya: Saving the environment is so important, because the ocean is like a refrigerator, because the ocean has the fishes, the ocean has the Opihe, the ocean has the crabs, the lobsters. So, in our time when we went fishing we would just take what we need. We wouldn’t be greedy and just, you know, would catch the first fish and throw it back. And that would be like a thank you. And then we’d take so much fishes, take it home clean it, eat it, you know, we would just take what we need.

Music by Dorian Roy

Anja Krieger: Welcome to the Plastisphere, the podcast, on plastic people and the planet. My name is Anja Krieger. I’m a freelance radio journalist and ten years ag o I sat in front of my computer in my hometown Berlin, and I read this article. It described a gigantic swirling area of floating trash all the way out in the Pacific. I couldn’t imagine. And I couldn’t let go of this idea that the remnants of our civilization end up all the way in the middle of nowhere. And so I set out on a quest to understand plastic pollution and what we can do about it. Continue reading “Ep.1 Transcript: Welcome to the Plastisphere”


Plastic has become the basis of our modern lives. And yet, it threatens ecosystems as well as our own well-being. Will we be able to develop a healthy relationship to the materials that we’ve created?

Plastisphere is an independent podcast by German science journalist Anja Krieger. It follows the complex relationships between us humans and our plastic world.

You can support the production via Patreon and RiffReporter, where you can find additional background, articles and translations in German and subscribe to the newsletter (German).