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Talking the talk and walking the walk

A teenager's attempt to lessen plastic waste

January 11, 2019

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Talking the talk and walking the walk

It is now 2019, and a new year beckons us. There are endless moments and endless memories to be made. Many people are making their New Year’s resolutions: to lose weight?, get a dream car, make better grades. My New Year’s resolution is to be more socially aware and not contribute to an ever-growing problem, plastic waste. It sounds simple and it is. Changing simple things in my every day life will help save the ocean.

I always make New Year’s resolutions and don’t follow through, but let’s break it down. I’ve always been told that to form a habit, any habit, it takes roughly 21 days. Making your bed, bible study, anything really, becomes a part of one’s routine in about three weeks, so couldn’t I, or anyone else for that matter, make the effort to use less plastic a habit rather than a thought? I’m really hoping more people will understand that it’s not as hard as it looks. I’m going to prove to myself that I can and will follow through with this resolution, unlike so many times before.

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The Impact of Plastic

From the smallest creature to the biggest, plastics impact the lives of over 500 species in our ocean.

There’s always those videos on Facebook with the dolphin entangled in a fishing net or the infamous video of the sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose. Some of the animals were spotted and helped, some are not.

Annually, there is 1.15 to 2.41 million tons of plastic that is dumped into our ocean. That much plastic is definitely going to impact our ecosystems. Single use plastics such as straws, plastic bags, water bottles are the main aggressors. In 10 years, we could be facing 250 metric tons of plastic that won’t go anywhere.

In my mind when I think of the ocean and the Earth in general, being overrun by plastic. It makes me think of the Disney movie, Wall-e. Humans trashed and destroyed the planet so much where they had to take to space and leave robots to clean up their mess? How long until we become the real- life Wall-e movie?

There are several organizations moving to help clean and prevent plastics from winding up in the ocean. Such as;  Sandcloud, Ocean Conservancy, the Ocean Cleanup just to name a few.

How does this impact the wildlife? How does it effect you and me? We all are familiar with the food chain, let me give you an example. A single celled organism that gets its food from the sun is eaten by small shrimp-like creatures and small fish and then eaten by bigger fish and then by a tuna and the tuna gets eaten by a great white. How does plastic play into this? Smaller fish can mistake small microplastics for food. Really, any of the creatures can. This impacts us humans because we tend to eat tuna and different species of fish which eat this plastic. Makes you start thinking, how much plastic have you ingested through a fish or animal that has ingested it too.

This is a bigger problem then you think.

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How can you help?

I’ve started taking steps to lessen plastic waste in my own life.

I am an avid crocheter and I decided to make some market bags to take with me to the store so I don’t have to use the plastic bags. I made three, a blue, red and green. A different color per need (i.e. food, cleaning supplies,..) just to keep things organized and separate. I have them in my truck so if I ever need to run into the store I can.

Second, is I carry a metal straw from the company, Sandlcoud and then I have a water bottle from a National Park I went to over the summer, with carrying a reusable cup will help lessen the use of Styrofoam and plastic, single-use cups. And the reusable straw helps lessen the chances of straws ending up in our ocean.

Even if you don’t do these things you can always choose to recycle and contribute that way.

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