By Meghan Rice
I have just discovered a documentary called Plastic Paradise, which I would recommend to anyone. It is directed by and starring an environmental activist, Angela Sun, who braved into what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The mass of plastics is located near Midway Island, situated between the east coast of Japan and the west coast of the United States. This island of garbage floating in the ocean is two times the size of Texas!
You probably knew that plastic was created to be indestructible. At some point in our history, plastic was a remarkable invention. But now we need to reflect on why plastic has become such an indestructible part of our lives. We have created so many different kinds of plastic trinkets. Angela found toys from the 60s, 70s, and 80s in the heaps of garbage, as well as shoe parts of old styles from previous decades, to name a few finds.
The flow of plastic into the ocean increases at a steady rate of tens of thousands of pounds per year. All those plastic bags, Styrofoam cups, and straws you see littered on the road, in the sand at the beach, or left from a picnic, find their way eventually into the ocean. Once there, they accumulate into what are now islands of trash.
What I have discovered after seeing the documentary is that with a “plastic paradise” of new renovations and conveniences in our daily lives that came with the invention of plastic, we also have a leftover mass of this indestructible material, and our only hope is to collect it and recycle it responsibly. But no one is in charge of this except volunteers like you and helpful environmental organizations.
How can we as a society incorporate into what we do the bringing home of plastics lost at sea? Our coral reefs are vital to ocean wildlife, and therefore to our food supply. No one knows what would happen if we lost all our reefs, but with 64,000 tons of discarded fishing nets floating in the oceans of the world today, these reefs are becoming a collection of plastics.
Coastal Angels, and other organizations like us, desire to reach out and educate you on what is happening. There is nothing in place to stop this, and our awareness creates change. Imagine you are eating a fish at a restaurant that has had plastic in its stomach. This happens all the time, without our knowledge as consumers. Plastic, as you know, contains human carcinogens that are dangerous. This poses a direct risk to our health every day.
The picture above illustrates what is typical of a catch from the ocean. Now imagine this on your plate. It’s not something we should tolerate or shove under the rug. This issue is close to home and rapidly getting worse.
Instead of being complacent, be a living example of what you believe in, and encourage your friends to do the same. Coastal Angels volunteers are marked by a sense of meaning that we share, and our pride in the accomplishment of making a step forward with each of our efforts. We essentially work to bring our plastics back home. It is a responsibility we have to reuse what we know is indestructible material.
Let’s not blame the consumer, or even the manufacturers. Let’s simply uphold our responsibility as a society to avoid and take back the damage we do to our oceans.
Much thanks to each and every concern for this cause.