Oceans of Plastic

     Plastic is one of the most convenient and effective products that humans use. However, it is among the world’s largest waste products. According to research done by plasticoceans.org, 300 million tons of plastic are made each year, and 8 million tons of that ends up in the oceans each year. This waste is detrimental to our environment, our wildlife, and even humans themselves. There are many different ways to cut out plastic products, or generally minimize how much plastic waste you produce.

     Plastic waste that ends up in the ocean is a major hazard to marine life and ends up moving up the food chain as well. Marine life such as turtles, and fish end up ingesting some of the microplastics in the ocean. This plastic often gets lodged in their intestinal track and kills them. Sea life can also suffocate in plastic bags or get plastic straws stuck in their gills or other parts of their bodies. Not only is this harmful to marine life but also birds. Birds like pelicans eat these fish that have consumed plastic, and then are at risk of getting plastic stuck in their intestinal tract. This plastic moves up the food chain easily reaching humans. Although humans are not at risk of having microplastic lodged in their bodies, we are still at risk of ingesting the harmful chemicals in plastic by eating fish or birds that have ingested it.

     One of the biggest problems with plastic is that it is ubiquitous so it is literally everywhere. According to postconsumers.com the average disposable plastic water bottle takes 450 to 1,00 years to degrade. At the rate we are at now, we have plastic waste everywhere and no way to get rid of it. That is why cutting out plastic completely or even partially can make a difference in our environment. People are often confused by the terms break down and biodegrade. There are only a minority of select plastics that actually biodegrade, which means they can be reduced to their chemical components. The large majority of plastics are not biodegradable, but rather just able to degrade or break down. When something breaks down it is reduced to smaller pieces. For plastic these smaller pieces are called microplastic and are unable to break down any further.

     Because plastic is so efficient for humans to use, that it is difficult to cut out of your life. However, making a change so big can be done in little steps that will eventually lead to complete replacement or abomination of plastic from your life. The first step is to cut out all one use or disposable plastics from your lifestyle. These plastics include; disposable water bottles, grocery bags, straws, and unnecessary bulk of plastic. Instead of buying packs of water bottles, carry around your own metal or reusable plastic one. When grocery shopping instead of buying pre packaged fruits or vegetables in plastic containers, buy them separate and prepare them at home. Bring reusable grocery bags when shopping, and instead of buying drinks in plastic bottles get your drinks in cans or glass bottles. Any plastic that you may use that need to be disposed of, recycle and bring to the recycling plant. Doing all these things and making a change in your own life, can really affect the world around you.