Nothing is more tempting than a trip to the ocean -- the allure of a sparkling blue, neverending sea of seaweed and sand combining into a heavenly aroma. It is simply irresistible.
Yet the state of the ocean’s glory is being threatened. As learned during AP Environmental Science, plastic and trash are polluting the ocean. Because of this the two Earth Club presidents: Josie Friedl ‘19, and Grace Coughlin ‘19 are so passionate about the issue. Josie teaches that “plastic and other trash are often ditched into the ocean by boats, or when fishermen leave nets in the sea, and litter flows into sewers which then leads to the ocean.” This grows into a bigger issue when, as Josie adds, “sadly, fish mistake the plastic for food and consume it.” Another pressing issue of plastic in the sea is that it causes 100,000 marine animals to die each year just through being entangled it. Therefore, it’s not shocking that scientists predict there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish in 2050.
Grace Coughlin, other co-president of Earth Club, believes that “what is most startling about plastic in the ocean is micro-plastics which are hard to see and clean up.” This is why preventing trash from even entering the ocean in the first place is important. For this reason composting and packaging in Keller are so important because it allows trash to be reused again, keeping it away from the ocean. SUA’s composting program is so important that it was recognized for its sustainability efforts by Channel 12 News and Duke Energy last month. Grace concludes that “the ocean has an intrinsic value of beauty and a right to survive.”
Mr. Simcoe, teacher of AP Environmental Science, also touches on how this problem directly affects humans. “Plastic not only threatens ocean life, but if these fish are ingesting plastics then the toxins in them, would be passed to us through the food chain.” However, of note, plastic only became relevant post WWII due to revolutions in manufacturing. For humans before us, plastic was not needed to survive. But now, the average American throws away 185 pounds of plastic each year.
Through recycling and using biodegradable items this problem is fixable. An individual’s actions make a difference though. Mr. Simcoe adds that while “you are only a tiny stone, [...] you can create a ripple effect.” Through bringing reusable bags when shopping, using reusable bottles of water, and drinking from reusable coffee cups, one can create a lasting impact.
Being mindful of plastic is important because humans need the ocean to live. Yet right now the ocean also relies on humans to keep it alive. In the words of famous anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed that’s all who ever have.”