Growing up on an island we are taught at a young age to rescue, reuse and recycle. We get first hand experience at how plastic can truly affect our oceans, both the ecosystems and the animals that live within them. Reducing plastic waste is not an easy task. Certain items are easy to reduce waste such as plastic water bottles. The use of reusable water bottles on the islands have become so normal, it is almost frowned upon to drink out of a plastic water bottle if you do not have to. Another very easy way to reduce the use of plastic is plastic bags. Traveling to the mainland is astonishing to islanders when we go to stores and see how many plastic bags are used for so little of groceries. The governor of Hawai’i banned the use of plastic bags and the islands never look back, if the rest of the country were to follow this it would be a huge reduction in plastic waste ending up in the oceans.

A big issue with plastic winding up in our oceans is that the ocean makes so much of our planet. More than 70% of the world’s surface is made up of water, meaning that when there is runoff at a dump, the plastic is more likely than not to end up in the ocean. I believe that people could reduce the amount of plastic a lot easier if it were important to them. Simply shopping at stores that do not sell pre-packaged vegetables, such as lettuce and or cabbage. There are many companies that package lettuce and customers buy it out of convenience, however, taking an extra minute to grab the unpackaged lettuce can save a significant amount of plastic, if it becomes a subconscious routine. There are also plenty of fresh food items that have natural packages that protect them from potentially harmful substances. An example of this is cabbage, not only can it protect itself, but if we remove the outer leaves, it also acts as natural packing material, therefore the plastic added is a waste.

There are becoming more and more different ways to reduce plastic waste, one that became a big thing over social media is the use of plastic straws. After a video blew up of a plastic straw in a turtle’s nose, it became frowned upon to use plastic straws. If more instances like this occurred, I am sure that the plastic waste in the ocean would be less. Finally, reusing plastic is another big part that we can play. The government will even pay you to recycle depending on your state. Recycling cans, as well as cardboard and plastic bottles can be made very easy, just simply take your recycles when you go to the dump, and you can even get compensated for it. The point of this is that if everyone took a little time out of their day, week, month, or even their year, it could not get rid of the plastic runoff into oceans, but could decrease it, and that is what is important!

Staci Leann Lovell
Kealakehe High School

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