There are around 150 million tons of plastic waste being pushed through the ocean right now. That’s enough waste to fill. That’s like having 200 Golden Gates Bridges floating around in our oceans.
Most of that danger comes from how difficult it is for plastic to break down. Plastic waste can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. Imagine how many empires could rise and fall within that time.
Plastic consumed by wildlife and sea creatures that we consume as foods poses a danger of being consumed by us. Not only are we threatening hundreds of animal species, but we’re also threatening ourselves.
What Plastic Waste Does to the Environment and Ocean
Plastic is incredibly useful and cheap. But it has a significant impact on the world around us. Explorers have found plastic waste wash up in some of the most remote places on earth.
Chemicals within plastic that circulate the oceans leech into the water and make it more acidic. This messes with the ocean’s ecosystem and can lead to species endangerment. These chemicals are also dangerous to the public, as it can mess with people’s reproductive systems.
When animals eat plastic, it blocks their digestive system and makes it difficult for them to digest the nutrients they need from their food.
Plastic waste in the ocean tends to float about, which lets invasive species hitch a ride and invade other locations they otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach.
What We Can Do About It
The best thing you can do for the plastic problem taking over the world is to reduce how much plastic you consume. Take reusable bags with you when you go shopping. Ditch restaurant plastic straws for glass or metal ones. Eat at restaurants that use biodegradable packaging.
The effort of one person alone won’t be enough to make up for the plastic problem. But by taking a small effort, you’ll set an example for the people in your life. They’ll start making changes and reduce their plastic consumption as well.
Easy Changes That Cut Down on Plastic Usage
- Buy food in bulk instead of in containers
- Use reusable mugs for coffee
- Swap processed food for fresh foods
- Ask your supermarket to take your plastic containers for produce away
- Switch to cloth diapers
- Squeeze your own juice
- Make your own cleaning environments
Scientists have also created an enzyme that eats through plastic. This enzyme can help break down the huge amount of plastic that is currently in the environment today and make the oceans safer for the thousands of species of wildlife that currently live there.
Take the time to learn about how this pollution affects the world around you. Whenever you hear a statistic about how pollution affects the environment, check to make sure it comes from multiple sources before you believe it.
You can also donate to organizations working to clean up the oceans and spread awareness about our worldwide plastic problem.
It’s hard not to get discouraged about the state of the world when you see how much damage has been done. But there’s still so much you and the people around you can do to reverse the effects of our actions. Take steps to change your lifestyle and encourage the people around you to do the same. With all of our efforts combined, we’ll be able to make the world a better place to live in. If you need encouragement on what people are doing to reduce our plastic consumption, check out National Geographic’s ocean plastic pollution solutions page.