It is very discouraging to think how much plastics are now in the oceans due to human waste. In the Pacific Ocean there is a massive amount of plastic that has accumulated to what is now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. National Geographic describes the Great Pacific Garbage Patch as not only being composed of large plastic items but also micro-plastics. These micro-plastics make the water look like a cloudy soup when in actuality they are micro-plastics that have detrimental effects on the marine life in the ocean. The reason the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is so large is because the majority of the single use items that billions of people use once then throw away end up in the ocean and get carried away by currents all leading to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

Plastics in the ocean have a devastating effect on the marine life that calls the oceans their home. One of the most dangerous items is plastic bags to sea turtles. One of the sea turtles main sources of food is jellyfish. According to seeturtles.org many sea turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and eat the plastic bags. The sea turtles cannot digest the plastic bags and their stomachs get filled with plastic bags making their digestive systems blocked which leads to organ failure and eventual death. Hearing about the devastating effects that plastic bags have had on sea turtles has inspired me to use reusable bags and I am happy to say that my family has also begun to use reusable bags rather than plastic bags. 

Many people have been misinformed that once plastic items are placed in the blue bins that they are recycled and transformed into other useful items. Unfortunately this is not the case. In the past, China has taken our plastics and disposed of them in China creating other items. Starting January 1 of this year China has stopped taking our plastics leaving recycling companies with no where to dispose of the billions of plastic items. Many plastic companies are now taking our plastics and dumping them into landfills or shipping it to places like Vietnam where they get “recycled.” The plastics have a very rough journey from America to Vietnam and a lot of the plastic waste gets washed overboard in the rough seas. 

Although our oceans seem to be choking in plastics there is still hope. The Ocean Cleanup Foundation aims to clean up and recycle 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within five years. Places like San Francisco are starting to ban single use plastics. Millions of people are realizing that the issue of plastics isn’t going away and are speaking out and beginning to use reusable items such as metal straws, glass containers, metal water bottles, and canvas bags. The problem of plastics in the oceans won’t go away overnight and it is important to understand how small changes in individual lives create a message that many will follow. Hopefully one day there will be a large enough push for legislation across the world to make the oceans healthy for generations to come. 

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CC BY-SA 4.0 PLASTIC PLANET by Pauline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

2 Comments
  1. Kiera N. 4 weeks ago

    Thank you, Pauline, for referencing the plastic garbage patch. I know if I were a turtle trapped in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, I would be very mad at the organisms who made this garbage appear. Who wants a slow and painful death when dying because they are choking? It must be scary for the other ocean animals that see the patch as a large animal trying to kill them if they get close. I never thought the pacific garbage patch was real. I first read it about in The 8th Continent by Matt London, where some scientists created a chemical compound that transformed the trash of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch into a green continent where plants and animals could live. If only scientists could make a compound like that in real life, this problem could be solved. But yes, I agree with Sandra that we need to educate everybody that this is a real thing out there. Because your and Sandra’s posts, I will educate all the people I meet about how plastic recycled affects the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This is a very educational article, so how can we put this article out for all to be seen?

  2. Sandra 1 month ago

    Hey Pauline, first I wanted to say that I loved your article. I think it is so incredibly important to talk about this huge problem we as humans are facing. I just want to ask how can we find an easier more efficient way of recycling? Another question i have is how can we educate the people, not only making them aware of what is happening in our society, but how it will eventually effect the entire planet? I read this article that gives basic ideas of how we can educate other people of the importance of not only recyling but keeping our enviroment clean and healthy.
    https://www.epa.gov/recycle/how-do-i-recycle-common-recyclables

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