Water Pollution is a huge problem.
Pollution has become a major problem, especially water pollution. More and more packaging waste such as plastic water bottles, plastic bags, fast food containers, juice boxes, etc. (which I refer to as trash) is thrown into the ocean and is destroying the ecosystem. One of the most discarded items is plastic. According to the Ocean Clean Up Project, over 5 trillion pieces of plastic litter the ocean each year which equates to over 265,000 tons. The most astonishing fact is that it takes hundreds of years for plastic to degrade in the ocean.

Packaging Waste is damaging our oceans so badly.
The presence of packaging waste is increasing in our oceans and does not seem to be getting better. This is a problem that needs to be addressed as trash is causing injury and death to marine species. The waste harms the sea animals by cutting them, attaching to them, or engulfing them. Packaging waste can also hurt them internally if ingested. Packaging waste in the ocean does not only affect sea creatures, it also affects humans. Many fish die from this waste pollution which removes them from the food chain. This causes an overpopulation of fish prey like insects, worms, and smaller fish. It also reduces the availability of fish that can be consumed.

The problem must be addressed.
Methods that can reduce the problem and help clean our oceans include:
1. Increased Education – There needs to be increased education related to the correct method of recycling. Many are not informed on how to recycle properly. Recycling methods should be taught in school at all grade levels. By teaching children, we can get the message to not only adults, but future generations as the teachings will be passed along.
2. Tax Incentives – Government agencies around the world should offer more tax incentives to companies that use recyclable product packaging.
3. Availability of recycle bins – Make recycling bins more available in public areas.
4. Increase Awareness – Many are aware of ocean pollution but don’t clearly understand the impact it has on marine life and to the environment. By reposting articles, sharing images, and showcasing the effects of packaging waste, it will motivate more people to join the cause to reduce ocean waste.
5. Encourage the use of reusable grocery bags, bottles, straws, etc. – Increasing the purchase of reusable items will send a message to businesses that more reusable products should be offered.
6. Organize a Beach clean-up. Go to the beach with family and friends to collect waste or join a local organization that sponsors events focused on ocean waste clean-up.
7. Support bans – Join forces with others to limit the use of non-recyclable packaging. Joining forces with others will not only educate but also bring attention to the problem. There is power in numbers and if more people put pressure on local municipalities to but restrictions in place, we will see the problem decrease.

I have always had a strong passion for recycling and spreading the word on its importance. Researching information on the impacts of packaging waste on our oceans for this scholarship opportunity has only increased my commitment. This topic has fueled me even more to become an ambassador of change in reducing the impacts associated with improper disposal of packaging materials.

Works Cited:

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

THE LARGEST CLEANUP IN HISTORY

5,000,000,000,0000: That’s How Many Pieces Of Plastic Are In The Ocean (That’s 5 Trillion)

This is how long everyday plastic items last in the ocean

Oceanic Society

Essay by: Sydney McCallum
Memorial High School

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