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It’s Sad That Marine Animals

It’s sad that marine animals are suffering because of all the trash humans put in our oceans. As a matter of fact, endless flows of trash are entering our oceans. This human-made trash os being released into lakes, ocean, and waterways. Trash enters our oceans when humans litter, industrial leakage, and plastics escaping into the environment. Approximately 1 million marine animals are killed due to plastic bags or other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean. Animals are dying because the plastics that enter our ocean take a very long time to disintegrate. In one particular case, a sea lion was tangled in plastic around its neck. He assumed the trash was something to eat or play with. The plastic had cut deeply into his neck causing scarring and a hole through his windpipe. Luckily, the animal was able to get surgery in time. Making him one of the few that actually survive. According to the organisation Ocean Crusaders, 46,000 pieces of plastic are in every square mile of ocean. If you were to line up all the plastic bags in the ocean end on end, it would circumnavigate the globe 4,200 times. Further research from Jared Huffman states that Americans generate 10.5 million tons of trash each year but only recycle about 1-2% of it. Around 14 billion pounds of that trash is being dumped in the worlds ocean each year. Due to the large amounts of plastic bags entering our oceans each year, marine life is suffering and even dying.

One of the biggest questions asked is why plastics are entering our oceans and becoming a problem. One major reason is because of people using single-use plastics and littering. Surprisingly, humans are only using plastics bags once. The bags then find ways to escape into the environment. They get blown away and end up in the ocean. In addition, a plastic bag takes around 20-100 years to break up. The bag doesn’t completely break down it just breaks up into smaller pieces. Even if it did, it would turn into polymers and toxic chemicals. A second cause of ocean pollution is sewage waste being poured into our oceans. According to Conserve Energy Future, we are releasing chemicals into the oceans ecosystem leading to reductions in oxygen levels, severe decline in the quality of sea water, and decay of plant life. Further information from Conserve Energy Future states, Each year about 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, stormwater, and industrial waste are dumped into US waters. Truly, the causes of trash getting into our oceans is becoming a bigger problem every single day.

Considering the reasons why ocean trash is entering our oceans, it’s important to know some of the significant effects. One major effect of ocean trash is marine life being killed or harmed. Sadly, marine animals mistaken the plastic in to ocean as food and ingest it making them very sick or even killing them. Approximately 1 million marine animals die each year due to plastic bags or other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean and at least two thirds of the world’s fish are suffering from plastic ingestion. Another critical effect if the health of the environment and ecosystem within it. According to Ocean Crusaders, the ecosystem is greatly affected by the accumulation of trash and plastic in our oceans. All ecosystems in the water, like fish, are being harmed/affected when they drink the polluted water. More research from Ocean Crusaders states, overflowing garbage is air pollution, which causes various respiratory diseases and other advertise health effects. The toxic substances in air contaminated by waste include carbon dioxide and methane. Without a doubt, the cause and effects of ocean trash are impacting the health of our environment, marine animals, and sea life.

Title of Solution #1

Ocean scientists are on a mission to make a more practical approach to protecting the oceans from trash. They want to persuade the world to stop littering. Their solution to the problem is to enact on container deposit laws, making them common in all states. Dr. Tony Haymet and his group of scientists are working on providing incentives for people not to throw stuff away. Haymet is working on this project because about 80 percent of trash washes out in sea from beach litter or from being carried downstream in rivers according to a CSIRO study. “When you think about climate change, it’s hard to reduce our carbon footprint, because we have to go through a fundamental shift in our economies,” Wilcox says. “With plastic, when you’re throwing a bottle cap on the ground, that should be an easy impact to get rid of.

Undoubtedly, this solution is the cheapest, simplest, and far most efficient solution to the problem. However, creating incentives to help reduce littering can be a political challenge. Only 10 states in the US have enacted container deposit laws. Beverage manufacturers oppose to creating these laws because they claim bottle deposits are more expensive than other forms of recycling. This would increase the cost of beverages because this constitutes a tax. As a matter of fact, the 10 states that enacted on container deposit laws have benefits. These laws encourage recycling and minimize waste in landfills. So far, this solution has been successful preventing litter, helping the environment, producing high quality recycled materials, and much more. Since California has enacted on these laws, more than 80% of the containers used have been prevented from being landfilled or littered. Compared to states without bottle bills, preventing less than 25%. Overall, creating more container deposit laws throughout the U.S. is the most effective and simplest solution. Creating these laws will lower the number of waste, littering, and trash overflowing in landfills.

Title of Solution #2

Another positive solution was created by Boyan Slat. Slat came up with a device that can collect ocean trash without harming marine life. This will help get rid of all the toxic plastic and trash currently overflowing our oceans. With this solution, Slats idea might lead to the removal of nearly half of the plastic debris floating in the ocean. Slat has a company called Ocean Cleanup in order to place this 6,561 foot long float in the ocean. In 2012, this solution became global. According to Slat, “…62 mile long model can remove 42% of the plastics in the Pacific Oceans trash-laden gyre in less than 10 years.” The floating Barrier, nearly 2,000 feet long, is solid instead of using a net to prevent sea life from becoming ensnared. The system collects the plastic, and gets collected by boats to be brought to recycling. According to the U.N., “over 8 million tons of plastic still enter the oceans each year.” Slats goal is to turn the plastic into something that is not single-use. This will reduce the chances of the plastic ending up back in the ocean.

As a matter of fact, Slat has done many tests and has so far, been a success. The barrier can hold at least a millimeter of trash all around. The design uses the pacifics currents, pushing the trash into the barrier. The Ocean Cleanup Foundation is working on a 0.6 mile prototype. Later this year, the solution will be put out into the ocean to start working. Unquestionably, this floating barrier will greatly impact the amount of trash in our oceans. This solution can really help our ocean and its environment.

Argument Towards Successful Solution

Everyday, trash is being released into the environment and ending up on our oceans. This problem needs to be prevented because this can affect the future of our Earth. Millions or marine animals are dying each year because of people wasting plastic and littering. Boyan Slat’s floating barrier can help prevent this problem. Slat’s organisation/invention works on removing all trash in our oceans by catching it in a barrier. Later, the trash is picked up by boats to be recycled. This solution is capable of removing nearly 42% of trash in the ocean in less than 10 years, making this the most effective way of getting rid of the trash currently roaming the ocean. In fact, Slat is planning to take all the plastic that he collects from the ocean, and turn it into something that is not single-use. In addition, this will reduce the chances of the plastics ending up back into the ocean. In fact, it is predicted that by 2040, this floating barrier will have removed 90% of the plastic in the great pacific garbage patch. In addition, Boyan Slat’s idea has been tested by him and his crew and so far, has been a success. The barrier has the ability to hold at least a millimeter of trash all around the 1,200 mile wall. Furthermore, the design works by using plastic currents in order to push the trash into the barrier. Overall, Boyan Slat’s idea is capable of getting rid of a little less than half the trash in our ocean in less than 10 years. This barrier is clearly the better solution and can greatly impact the amount of trash in our ocean.

While it is true that Boyan Slats floating barrier is the most effective way of getting rid of trash in our oceans, some people prefer Tony Haymet’s idea. Haymet’s idea is to create incentives to help reduce littering. He wants to enact on container deposit laws, making them common in all states. The benefits of this is that some states prevented more than 80% of trash from being landfilled or littered with the laws in place. The most important thing to remember is that there is still trash in our oceans. Yes, this may help get rid of trash entering our oceans in the future, but we also need to worry about what is also currently a problem. Although Haymet’s idea helps prevent more trash from entering our oceans, Boyan Slat’s invention gets rid of trash that is already a major problem. We need to find a way to get rid of a current problem before we can focus on how to stop it in the future. The trash doesn’t disappear on its own. Alternatively, container deposit laws are believed to minimize littering and increase public safety. According to a 1996 study in the American Journal of Public Health, the Massachusetts container deposit law was credited with a 60% decline in childhood glass lacerations. In addition, Haymet’s solution is a cheaper way to solve this problem. When buying a plastic container, prices could vary from 2-15 cents more. To add, so far, this solution has been very successful on preventing litter, helping the environment, and producing high-quality recycled material. For example, since California has enacted on these laws, 80% of the containers used has been prevented from being littered or landfilled. This is compared to the 25% that is prevented by states without these bottle bills. Although creating more container deposit laws can reduce the amount of trash continuing to enter our oceans, the floating barrier helps get rid of trash that is already affecting our oceans every single day and becoming a bigger problem.

When looking at the high numbers of marine animals dying because of ocean trash, more than half of the animals that die are caused by them consuming the trash in the ocean. In researching the severity of this issue, it is obvious that the floating barrier is a stronger solution to address the seriousness of this issue. As a matter of fact, if we do not control the amount of plastics we are using/putting in our oceans, then we place all marine animals and the health of our planet in risk or dying. For example, In Saint Louis Missouri, a red-eared slider turtle was trapped in a plastic ring used for soda cans. This caused the turtles shell to form into a figure 8. The turtle had attempted to eat the plastic, mistaking it for food, and ended up getting entangled in it making it very hard to survive. Due to the devastating numbers of marine life deaths because of waste and pollution in our waters caused by people littering and not conserving plastics, it is crucial that we take responsibility and start recycling and using less plastic/reusing. Although creating more container deposit laws can reduce the amount of trash continuing to enter our oceans, the floating barrier helps get rid of trash that is already affecting our ocean every single day and becoming a bigger problem.

Freelance Writer

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.

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