Each year, about 78 million tons of plastic packaging waste is produced in the world. Of this tremendous amount, about 32% is estimated to end up in the world’s oceans. Plastic packaging specifically can cause great harm to the oceans, due to a multitude of reasons. It has been well known among the public of the harm that plastic can have on sea life. From whales eating huge tons of plastic that’s extremely harmful to their health and often leads to their death, to smaller sea life like fish and sea turtles getting tangled up in plastic trash, plastic and packaging waste causes significant harm to sea animals. This doesn’t even cover the harm plastic packaging can have on the land.

In order to reduce packaging waste in the world’s oceans, we should transition a majority of packaging to be compostable as well as limiting the amount of packaging that is produced and distributed. Compostable packaging would mean that it’s completely biodegradable and is better for the environment because it will decompose and provide nutrients for the soil of growing plants. If packaging was switched to being compostable, then packaging waste around the world can instead be distributed on land where it will eventually disintegrate rather than remain in the ocean for thousands of years. In addition, limiting the amount of packaging that’s produced and distributed would also help reduce the amount of packaging waste in the world’s oceans because often the amount of plastic packaging produced and distributed is unnecessary. Reusable packaging devices can often account for a large portion of packaging waste, while other packaging is simply not needed and never used despite being distributed to companies and persons. It’s become popular for people to bring metal straws everywhere instead of using the plastic ones provided by public areas. However, what if we extended this idea? If people brought their own silverware, water bottles, shopping bags, and more, companies and more public areas would eventually stop distributing them as much.

To add on, packaging waste can be reduced by funding and donating efforts to those who work to physically clean up the oceans. While policy changes in society are important for changing the root of the problem, the current waste in the ocean must also be taken into account. Often the organizations that work to clean the world’s oceans are underfunded in some way and are unable to fully compete against the amount of waste that’s being poured into the oceans with their current resources. This issue could be fixed by providing more funding and donations to these organizations, specifically from governments. Governments providing funding to these organizations will inspire others to do the same while also showing the improvement and concern that governments have for these issues. And other areas of science and environmentalism could be provided funding as well that will not only improve the pollution of oceans, but also the world at large. For example, scientific research stations gaining more funding would allow for strives in science that could create new technology that would be helpful in cleaning up packaging waste in oceans by making it more efficient and effective.

However, it must be recognized that packaging waste isn’t the only thing causing harm to the world’s oceans. Several other forms of pollution such as the fishing industry and oil spills must also be considered when thinking about possible solutions to ocean conservancy. If we’re looking to solve the pollution problem in the world’s oceans and the environmental destruction it causes, these other issues must be considered and different solutions must be created in order to combat them.

Essay by: Jayla Sanderson
Northfield High School

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