Everyone is Ignoring the Terrible State of Our Oceans
The plastic tide is rising— and no one is paying attention
In the middle of the pacific ocean lies hundreds of thousands of tons of floating trash. Plastic bottles, plastic bags, abandoned fishing gear, and millions of more plastic items are floating somewhere in the ocean, accumulating in plastic gyres or breaking down into microplastics. So what makes this 19 billion pounds of plastic entering the ocean each year different than other pollutants?
Facts About Plastic
Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in our ocean. By 2020 this amount will increase to 160 million tons— equivalent to 21.3 trillion plastic bags being dumped into the ocean.
100,000 marine mammals, along with millions of birds and fishes, are killed annually due to plastic pollution in the ocean.
Plastic takes between 450-1,000 years to degrade. This means that plastic water bottles that are thrown in the ocean this year will remain in the ocean until 2468.
As plastic waste floats in the ocean, they absorb chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) which then enter the food web. BPA is a toxin that has been linked to several health problems in humans, such as heart disease, miscarriages in pregnant woman, and diabetes. When fish and other animals ingest these fragments, the toxic chemicals are passed up the food chain, eventually making its way onto our dinner table.
(You can find more facts about plastic here)
We Must Act Now
The benefits that we receive from the marine ecosystem makes life on land possible; the quality of life on land is dependent on the quality of the marine environment. Day by day, plastic pollution is endangering many marine species and causing unprecedented stress on the environment. The ocean is deteriorating right in front of our eyes— we need to take action now to reduce the amount of plastic waste input into the ocean.
What You Can Do
Support non-profit ocean cleanup organizations such as The Ocean Cleanup. Within five years, this organization estimates that the Pacific plastic gyres will be reduced to 50% of their current size.
Promote local or national legislation toward plastic waste management and pollution reduction. This includes the ban of plastic grocery bags.
Avoid using single use-plastics. 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic has been created since the plastic industry took off six decades ago and of that 8.3 billion tons, 6.3 billion tons has become plastic trash. Although impossible to avoid using plastic, opting for a reusable water bottle or using reusable shopping bags can make a small impact in reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills or that pollutes our oceans.
Educate others of the dangers of ocean pollution. Being aware of the current situation leads to better choices in terms of effective waste management.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to make many ripples.”
- Mother Teresa
Even the most daunting task shall never outweigh our dedication and ambition to strive for greatness.