Packaging waste in the world’s oceans?

Did you know that the ocean covers more than seventy percent of the Earth’s surface? In 2020 there was seventy-nine percent of plastic waste in the ocean and landfill, while only nine percent was recycled and twelve percent incinerated (Dorey, 2020). There are about 150 million tons of plastic in the ocean (Dorey, 2020). At least 269,000 of plastic waste floats on top of the ocean's surface which causes harm to sea animals (Dorey). Each year there are approximately 100 million marine animals that die from eating or getting stuck in plastic waste (Dorey, 2020).

How Long Does it Take For Plastic to Decompose

Instead of people putting their waste in trash cans, many think it's okay to throw it on the road, in oceans, rivers, etc but in reality, they are hurting our Earth more. It takes aluminum cans about 200 years, and plastic bottles about 450 years, to decompose in the ocean (Whiting, 2018). Different types of plastic can take longer to decompose, like fishing lines can take up to about 600 years to break down. Plastic bags can take up to twenty years to break down, while styrofoam cups can take fifty years and cigarette butts take about ten (Whiting, 2018). Sea animals' lives are in danger due to plastic being in the ocean, they either eat it or tangled in it causing injuries or death. In Thailand 2018, a pilot whale was washed up onto the shore and a biologist found 80 plastic bags in the stomach (Whiting, 2018).

Ways to Reduce Packaging Waste

The major contribution to reducing waste products from getting tossed is the “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.” Recycling helps the environment save energy and reduces the pollutants caused by materials. There are many options on how to reduce waste. When printing out something that is more than one page, print on both sides, use cloth napkins instead of paper, try to stay away from disposable plates, silverware, cups, and much more. You can also reuse old jars, wood, newspaper, envelopes, clothes and so much more. You can make new projects out of old used items. You can use old items to make new clothes, projects, or home decor. If you have old items that you absolutely do not want, donate them. One’s trash may be someone else’s treasure. Another great item to reuse is rechargeable batteries. Some people believe that recycling is hard but in reality, just buy products that are metal, paper, cardboard, glass bottles, jars, and plastic containers. Shopping centers are full of these products, just choose them wisely.

Benefits

There are many benefits to the three R’s. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!” Recycling will help save the environment, land, water, and save animals. You can participate in beach or river clean-up. You can also get a recycling bin at your home to go green. Talk to others about recycling and encourage pickups. Benefits can include but are not limited to reducing pollution, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving money, sustaining the environment for next generations, and many more.

Conclusion

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is simpler than we all realize and is very important. You never know how much trash is thrown into the roads, oceans, and landfills until you have done the research and it amazes me. A least 3.5 million tons of trash is thrown away every day (Leahy, 2018)! To save our environment it is so important to pick items correctly and stop throwing things away because we do not want them. We need to think about our decisions and help save our environment. If we keep going in this direction everything will be changing for the worst. Together, we can make a positive impact on the world we live in.

Works Cited:

Dorey, P. (2020). 100+ Ocean Pollution Statistics & Facts (2020-2021). Condor Ferries.

Leahy, S. (2021, May 3). How Zero-Waste People Make Only a Jar of Trash a Year. Science.

Whiting, K. (2018, November 2). This is how long everyday plastic items last in the ocean. World Economic Forum.

Essay by: Donita Rochelle Daley
Northwest University