There are many ways to reduce packaging waste in the world’s oceans, but sometimes you just don’t know how to start. Maybe you’re wondering, how can I, one person, help in this situation? Where do I start? Can I really make a difference? Well, let me be the first to tell you that you can.

During my biology class a couple years ago, I was forced to start a commitment to help the environment. I started this commitment because I was assigned it, not because I just wanted to go thirty two days without plastic water bottles. After all, that’s pretty inconvenient. But it was an eye opener for me. Disposable bottles harm the environment in ways I’d never even considered. My journey through this “Thirty-two Day Commitment to Make a Change,” as it was called, taught me how important it is to be aware of the amount of water bottles being used. If you are looking for a place to start in reducing your carbon footprint, reducing your own water bottle use is a good place to start.

I would like to highlight one specific way in which plastic bottles harm our oceans. Zion Lights, a freelance journalist and author at One Green Planet, says that the caps of disposable plastic bottles frequently find their way into the depths of the sea and get eaten by marine life (Lights). Marine animals mistake the bottle caps for food, which can be dangerous for them. The less plastic bottles used, the safer ocean life can be. By being aware of the amount of disposable bottles we use, we are changing our environment one bottle at a time.

Another problem with plastic bottles is that they don’t break down quickly. As The GoodFor Company, which is the leading water filtration provider, says, “it takes at least 450 years for a plastic bottle to break down.” That’s a long time for a lost plastic bottle to be tossed around in our oceans, just waiting to be eaten by marine life. Another way you can help is, when you see plastic bottles lying around, recycle them. Don’t let them get to the beautiful creatures of the sea.

To measure the impact my new habit had on the environment, I calculated how many plastic water bottles I would save. If I had to guess, I’d say I used to open a new plastic water bottle every three days, on average. That means that in this 32 day span of not drinking from disposable water bottles, I saved 11 water bottles. If I were to not use any plastic water bottles for an entire year, I would save approximately 122 bottles. And so can you.

If you want to reduce packaging waste in our oceans, start by using fewer plastic water bottles. This can be as simple as purchasing a reusable water bottle or thermos. Be aware of the amount of water bottles you open. It may be challenging and frustrating at times, But it also may surprise you. Most of all, it may benefit this beautiful world.

Essay by: Julianna V Osburn
Messiah University

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