Earth Day Awareness: Perpetual Plastic


Photo from Google Images

Madie Fujimoto, Editor

By 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the amount of fish, according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Earth Day was on Sunday, April 22. This year’s focus was on ending plastic pollution by 2020, which will be the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day.

Plastic is everywhere you look; it is in your phone, your Starbucks cups, and your face wash. Although plastics are beneficial for us in the short term, such as storing our lunch, carrying our groceries, and connecting our electronics, they create a bigger problem later on when they are disposed and become one of the most commonly littered items.

The Earth Day Network’s goals are to eliminate single-use plastics, to promote alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, to require 100% recycling of plastics, to increase corporate and government accountability of their plastic use as well as to change people’s behavior.

Plastic pollution is an important global problem. Not only will plastic never deteriorate as it continues to collect, but it causes a domino effect. The Plastic Pollution Coalition states that plastic is extremely harmful as it leaches into groundwater, poisons the food chain, affects human health, along with causing a multitude of other problems.

The most infamous plastic pollution problem is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This is the largest mass of plastic in the ocean that covers about 1.6 million square kilometers. This is about twice the size of Texas!

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located between Hawaii and California. According to The Ocean Cleanup, over one ton of plastic is tossed into the ocean annually adding to its estimated mass of 100,000 tons.

There are pieces of plastic ranging from as small as 0.05 centimeters to over 50 centimeters and since plastic is not biodegradable, it will break into smaller pieces and accumulate until it is picked up or eaten by an animal.

According to The Ocean Cleanup, 84 percent of a sample of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch contained toxic chemicals. This is exceptionally harmful because not only do wildlife consume these toxins, but we eat the wildlife which effectively places plastic toxins into our body.

As stated by the Earth Day Network, if plastic usage trends continue, there will be over 13 billion tons of plastic in landfills by 2050.

So what can you do to prevent this? Here are 3 easy tips:

  1. Join the #skipthestraw movement – ask your waiter at restaurants to not give you a straw or use paper/reusable straws.
  2. Avoid face washes that use microplastics as exfoliants – these types of plastics directly pollute our waterways.
  3. Spread awareness about the consequences of single use plastics and encourage your friends to limit their plastic use too – imagine the impact we can have if we all work together!