Have you ever considered how much plastic is used for simple products? I once saw a micro sd card at a store with packaging that was ten times the size of the actual product. We use too much plastic for our packaging anyways that gets thrown out because it can’t be used. Because of the effects of packaging waste on pollution and toxic emissions, it contributes to oceanic warming, which is immensely harmful to marine ecology. One of the most noticeable effects of oceanic warming is coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is when the polyps inside of coral get rid of the algae in them, turning their color white. Currently, 40% of the great barrier reef (you know, the one you can see from space) is untouched by bleaching. Bleaching doesn’t kill coral, but it can give them a higher chance of dying. A coral will also produce a neon color to act as a sort of “sunscreen” against the warmth near the end of its life from being bleached as a last resort.
Another thing that packaging wastes add to is the Eastern Garbage patch, a couple hundred miles off of the coast of california in the north pacific ocean. The garbage patch is made up of almost entirely plastics and microplastics, turning the water around it gray and brown. The garbage patch cuts off access to light for the plankton underneath it and disrupts the ecology of the surrounding wildlife as well. Turtles will mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and suffocate or die from starvation, seabirds like the albatross will also mistake brightly colored items of plastics as food and feed it to their chicks.
I’ve thought of some potential solutions to these problems, one solution could be to strengthen recycling programs. On average, Japan recycles about 85% of the plastics that they produce, compared to the 9% that America recycles. America is also one of the top producers of plastic in the world. Another solution that could work is helping to spread awareness about the problems that we actually produce 20% of the trash in the garbage patches are from boats. There were instances of shipping boats getting caught in storms and containers flying off, or even the ship itself being flipped. I say that if we spend some more money to increase the security and safety of the cargo itself by attaching a net, or some other retention method, around the outsides of the cargo to lessen the chance of it sliding or flying out.
There are projects happening in the world right now to advance the sustainability of our oceans. There are boats in development that are designed to scoop up the trash on the surface of the water. Of course, that can’t cover all of the waste in the ocean, but it is a really good start. There is a content creator that has made a charity on the basis of $1 donated = 1 pound of trash removed from the ocean. The charity, called “#Team Seas”, achieved their goal of raising over $30 million by the end of 2021, removing 30 million pounds of plastic waste from the ocean. Many businesses, both small and large, have been slowly changing to more eco-friendly packaging and waste. Such as compostable bags and silverware, paper straws, and reusable bags made from plant fiber.
Essay by: William Murdock
Highline High School