Ocean Awareness

Ocean Awareness

Sabrina James, Contributing Writer

If there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that plastic is choking us to death. Plastic is a huge problem, especially in the water. Sea turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them which gets plastic stuck in their throats. Other animals can get stuck on six pack rings or suffocate due to swallowing plastic straws. However, we as a society are becoming more aware of the dangers of plastic and are trying to stop this pollution. 

Founded by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat in 2013, The Ocean Cleanup’s objective is to reduce and remove the plastic found in our water. They conduct research on how plastic affects the ocean and try to better understand the problem. Their way of cleaning the ocean is energy efficient and neutral. Also, it’s cheaper and quicker than other conventional methods. They use the natural ocean currents, waves and the wind to trap and concentrate the plastic making it easier to pick up. One of the many things that this organization plans to do is to clean out the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and try to better understand where the plastic comes from. Right now, they are working on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is a giant trash island in the Pacific Ocean. According to website https://theoceancleanup.com, By 2040, “The Ocean Cleanup projects to be able to remove 90% of ocean plastic.”

So, why is plastic in the ocean such a big deal? Plastic hurts the ocean’s ecosystem and wildlife, which is terrible for the environment. Our Earth is 71% ocean, and about 220,000 marine species. Cleanwater.org says “Marine plastic pollution has impacted at least 267 species worldwide, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species and 43% of all marine mammal species. “ But, not only is plastic pollution damaging to marine biomes and animals, it also affects us. Seafood is something that many of us enjoy. However, we may never get seafood again because of our overeating of fish and the fact that they ingest plastic debris. The plastic debris can contain toxins, pollutants and chemicals and as we eat the fish, we too will get contaminated with the toxins. The Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College makes very valid points about how the plastic hurts humans. Ocean plastic also has a link to the increasing ocean temperatures. Rising ocean temperatures lead to more devastating hurricanes, tsunamis and floods. Unfortunately, there are no quick or easy solutions. The battle between plastic and the environment is everlasting.

Now that you know the horrible things plastic can do, you might want to help reduce the amount of plastic clogging the ocean. For one, we can use less single-use disposable plastic. Items such as cups, straws, bottles, utensils, etc. can be replaced with more efficient alternatives like reusable straws or bottles and metal utensils. If we do happen to use single-use plastic, we should make sure to try and recycle it. Some plastic cannot be recycled, but other types can. Thirdly, we need to avoid any “microbead” products. Microbeads are very small and have been growing in the ocean’s plastic problem. There are many other ways to support the cause like spreading the word, staying informed, shopping wisely, participating in cleanups, and supporting the organizations addressing the problem. Addressing this issue will cause people to become more aware, and you too can help our environment.