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Op-ed

Why Plastic is Ruining Us and Our Oceans

In Cefalù, a city in northern Sicily, Italy, a fifth whale was found dead, washed up on shore. This whale, about 6 or 7 years old, only a tenth of the age of its life expectancy, contained about “several kilograms worth of plastic” the local researcher, Carmelo Isgro, who performed a necropsy on the whale told CNN. This frightening event, however, has become more and more of a regular occurrence.

The other cases included a juvenile sperm whale with nearly 30kg of plastic within its stomach that washed up on the Spanish island of Murcia in February 2018. Also in April, a pregnant sperm whale was found dead off the Italian island of Sardinia with 22 kilograms of plastic in its stomach, filling two-thirds of its stomach.

The amount of plastic consumption has always been at a steadfast. During the 1950s, where the world’s overproduction of plastics was beginning to be realized, we produced only 2 million tonnes of plastic per year. By 2015, it was 381 million tonnes. A grave number to be reached within only the span of 60 years.

Of this, about 3%, or 8 million metric tons end up in our oceans. Now, in order to confront the problem, we have to understand some of the causes of it. As you may already know, this vast amount of pollution is caused and worsened by many of our day to day activities, being that most of the plastic found in our oceans is derived from land-based sources. And no, this is not limited to tycoon corporations, or disposal companies, but ranges from our seeming harmless activities, including the use of electronics, transportation and the most damaging of them all, packaging

Remember, this stuff is not biodegradable, it remains on Earth, at most breaking down into micro pieces, affecting the environment for thousands of years, potentially, forever.

Regrettably, most of us fail to realize the harm that this is not only causing our planet but our marine life. I think it’s important to understand that while the number of whales that have washed up on shores seem insignificant, it only counts for a fraction of the marine life affected by our habits. Most of the animals in our oceans affected by this are smaller and are less likely to be found. This is a major cause for the amount of plastics found in the stomach’s of whales now. The plastic wastes are within their food source. It’s not a matter of simply avoiding the waste it encounters, the animals mandatory for their survival are already affected with the wastes we’ve produced, presenting a danger for us as well.

Approximately three billion people in the world rely on both wild-caught and farmed seafood as their primary source of protein. The irresponsibility within our oceans does not leave us free from consequences. There often are tiny bits of plastic in the fish and shellfish we eat and scientists still have yet to determine what that means for our health. It may take years to know how much damage we may have done to ourselves and it may be an issue too far along to correct for many.

I know, you’ve heard about the need to recycle, live ethically, we’ve all seen hundreds of commercials all telling us the same things, but this issue is already out of hand and it’s not getting better with the road we’re on. We have remained misguided over the issue of pollution for decades now. The planet is falling apart right in front of our eyes and many of us fail to see that. I’m not saying you have to be perfect, nor do you have to make an entire lifestyle change. It’s not realistic. But at this point, just about anything, as little as not using plastic straws anymore, is better than nothing.

Featured Image: NBS Television

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Lauren Faulkner
Written By

A kid who likes to tell the world from her own perspective.

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