- /Intro Have You Ever Been Immersed
Intro Have You Ever Been Immersed
Intro:Have you ever been immersed in nature and just as you are realizing how beautiful the world is, your appreciation is ruined when you notice garbage? Try and think of a time, I know I have many memories of this happening. My surfing takes me to some of the most inaccessible beaches in the country, some out of eyesight from the nearest road and many cliffs around. Yet even in some of the most isolated areas I still find garbage drifting through the blue ocean water. I hate to see this because I know that if I see trash in even the most secluded areas that it must be everywhere. As an ocean fanatic, there is one type of trash I hear about and see that causes lots of damage. I bet you can guess, it’s plastic. With the major impact plastic is having on the ocean, life, and planet we live on, there should be a country-wide ban on plastic bags. I’m going to tell you about the impact plastic has to the environment, a solution to help with the issue, and how you can take action.
Plastic is destroying the earth, especially its oceans and the animals that live in it. It litters the planet, floats through the ocean, poisons the water, and kills the living. One of the biggest signs of plastic pollution is the garbage patches throughout the world which are pretty much islands of floating trash. All of the dead sea creatures are more proof of how bad the plastic pollution is. Some of you may have witnessed it with your own eyes like myself. Last year as I was walking to one of my favorite surf spots in Malibu, I noticed something in the distance. As I approached, I found a dead dolphin washed up on the beach with a plastic bag hanging out of its mouth.
If plastic keeps entering the ocean at its current rate, the ocean will become extremely polluted. The problem with plastic is that it can take anywhere up to one-thousand years to decompose. Plastic breaks down into smaller pieces and eventually into microscopic size pieces that are too small to be seen by the human eye. However, it is still there and is poisoning the water. Over a billion pounds are currently polluting the water. This is so much, it’s hard to put in perspective so let me help. According to the World Economic Forum, the amount of plastic that finds its way into the ocean every year is so high that it is equivalent to one garbage truck full of trash being dumped into the ocean every minute. And I’m sure you have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island of accumulated trash floating between California and Hawaii. After a research study by The Ocean Cleanup, they estimated that the patch is over three times the size of France, weighing 160 million pounds.
If you had to guess, how many marine animals would you think die from plastic every year? Most people I ask say 10-30 thousand. They were off by a little, the actual number is 100 thousand mammals which is not including fish or birds. I want to help you understand how much the impact that one plastic bag can have. Let’s say a sea turtle swallows a plastic bag mistaking it for a jellyfish like they often do. The plastic bag traps gas in the turtle, causing it to float and can no longer dive down for food. After the turtle dies and decomposes, the plastic bag which cannot be digested is again eaten by another sea turtle. As the the turtle is dying, an even larger creature eats it with the plastic still in it, and is now effected. The problem is that plastic takes so long to decompose that one plastic bag can kill multiple organisms. It’s not just sea turtles that eat plastic and pass it on to other organisms when they are eaten. Instead, all creatures anywhere from plankton to whales mistake the plastic for food and pass the it on to other animals. There is so much plastic that it is hard for animals not to consume it. For example, according to PlasticPollution.org, there are 1.5 million Laysan Albatross birds that live in Midway in the North Pacific and all of them have plastic in their stomach. Many of them face fatality.
You may say so what, there are enough of each species that its not a big deal that some of them are dying from our pollution. However, many species on the verge of becoming extinct and plastic pollution is seriously helping to exterminate these species. For example, there are around one thousand monk seals left and according to The Marine Pollution Bulletin, there have been 215 recent reports of monk seals what have eaten or been vulnerable to plastic. They cannot afford this! Lastly, incase you don’t care about the animals dying or care to ever see them before they go extinct, I want you to know that you are also affected by plastic pollution. Whatever plastic gets consumed or has been absorbed by a fish or creature we are eating, goes into our system as well. I don’t know about you but I’d rather be eating a clean, healthy fish than one contaminated by plastic. If you think about it, after so much pollution, it is starting to make a full circle and kick humans back.
So, as you can see and already know, we have this massive problem of pollution that is destroying the earth and ocean. It is time that humans make some real adjustments. My solution is that the U.S bans the use of plastic bags. This is a starting step to lead to using more eco-friendly materials and products. It would also lead other countries into having a more green world.
So, Plastic bags are so lightweight that they easily break and easily blow away, even out of trash cans. There are simply just too many plastic bags being made while they already litter the earth. Using reusable non-plastic bags will end the the production of plastic bags. Less bags will be made and they will be heavier so they cannot blow away into the ocean so easily. It would be an easy-to-do huge step for the country. The Center for Biological Diversity reports that the average american family uses around 1500 plastic bags for shopping a year. If an average american family has three to four people in it, then they only use as little as 3-4 bags for shopping per year which can be reused for many years and have a much less chance of ending up in the ocean.
Right now you might be thinking, “ok good idea Jake, but how can this happen?” Well first the government would have to ban the use of plastic bags. This may seem like a lot, but other countries have done it such as Kenya and even San-Francisco has banned plastic bags. Second, the government would have to manufacture bags and distribute them to citizens throughout the country. I think that one bag per person is a good start. You might ask, “well what if a person or family needs more bags than they have?” Well, the government can certify manufacturers to produce and sell reusable bags that meet the standards. The government should also set a price floor above the market equilibrium, high enough to give people incentive to not want to buy new bags. This will help keep people from losing their bags.
There are a few downsides to getting rid of plastic bags but they are worth it. People are going to have to put in more effort to remember to bring their reusable bags with them where they go. Also, the reusable bags will have to be washed every so often. With the ban of plastic bags, many manufacturers are going to have to shut down or allocate their resources to making reusable bags. Some people will lose their jobs but will allocate to where the economy needs them most. Bags will be more costly to make but with a set price floor, manufacturers will still make a profit.
When this plan is set in, people will have to bring their own bags with them when they go shopping. Stores will have have reusable bags for customers to buy incase they are need another to carry all of their purchases. Instead of taking home your groceries after getting back from the store and throwing out your bags, people will put their bags away until the next time they need them. Not that difficult right? Of course there will be some downside as there is to any change. However, the results will be very beneficial. Animals will stop washing up dead on our beaches, species will be given more of a chance to survive, our environment will be cleaner, and it brings us closer to the end goal. The results may be hard to see at first but would happen right away. Over time, there will be less trash in our streets, less pollution, and less death. It is easy to keep moving in the wrong direction but this plan one a step in the right direction that will lead to many more.
When you are all grown up and have a family, what kind of world do you want your kids to live in? If we take this step and start eliminating pollution, you’ll be able to take your kids to the beach and go body surfing in the ocean without any trash. You will be able to take them to the zoo and show them all the animals you remember seeing as a kid. You will be able to take them on vacation and show them the beauty of the world and see life thriving in its natural habitat. You will be able to create good memories, that will never be forgotten.
Without taking action against pollution, you can expect to worry about taking your family to the beach because it will be covered in trash and the water will be dangerously contaminated. You can expect to have to tell your kids about all of the life that no longer exists. You can expect to worry about what your kids eat because it might be contaminated. You can expect to have to explain why humans did not care enough to make changes to save the rest of the species.
With one of the world’s worst environmental issues being waste management, a ban on plastic bags would be a strong step to eliminate the issue. If we want to save the marine ecosystem, the largest ecosystem on the planet, and even our planet as a whole, then action needs to be taken. Here’s what you can do to help.
I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.