Swimming in Plastic: Why Going Green is More Important Than Ever

Swimming in Plastic: Why Going Green is More Important Than Ever

Chloe Shearer, Staff Reporter

Plastic in the ocean is a topic that everyone seems to be talking about. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen a colorful infographic saying, “save the turtles!” reposted on someone’s Instagram story while no real action is taken. These bright colors and statistics don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the real issue. What is the real issue? Plastics are killing marine life every single day.  

Every day, 8 million pieces of plastic end up in the ocean, and 8 million tons of plastic enter our ocean every year, with an estimated total of 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste currently in the ocean. Ingestion, suffocation, and entanglement are currently the biggest problems. Perhaps the most tragic issue is the problem of marine life ingesting plastic, and slowly starving to death. This happens because their stomachs feel full, but they aren’t getting the nutrients they need, and they physically can’t eat anymore. 100,000 marine animals die from plastic pollution every year. So how does this issue affect us? First, the plastics entering the ocean are poisoning animals, and therefore poisoning humans. Plastic in the ocean is causing threats to human life. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic formed from bigger plastic broken down. If a human were to eat an animal that had consumed microplastics, they would be severely poisoned and have damaged organs. Not to mention how marine organisms provide 70% of the air we breathe, and these crucial creatures are dying. The poisonous chemicals are also poisoning our water supply. Plastic in the ocean is causing countless problems, and it can’t mean anything good for our future. 

On the brighter side, humans can make more sustainable choices to reduce damage to our environment. You may be thinking, “I’m one person, I can’t make a difference.” That’s where you’re wrong. Every person who decides to make more sustainable choices is a little bit less danger to marine organisms. It’s a slightly smaller chance of an animal dying. So how can you help? There are countless ways to contribute. First and foremost, reducing your use of single-use plastics. Single-use plastics are obviously the biggest problem in the ocean. Reducing your use of them puts a little less plastic in the ocean. Another easy solution is recycling properly or avoiding products containing microbeads. Microbeads are completely unnecessary and are lethal to marine organisms. They can be found in facial scrubs, toothpaste, bodywash, and a few other places. They do not make you healthier at all, you don’t need them. Other solutions include participating in a beach cleanup and donating to organizations that clean up plastic pollution. Honestly, I would focus on making tiny, sustainable choices. Filling a water bottle instead of buying a plastic one or switching to body wash without microbeads are both very simple ways to make a little bit of a difference. A little change is better than no change.