The story of our oceans is not one that is told with reassurance or a smile, but rather with a tone of ambivalence. Decades ago, our oceans flourished with marine life, and brought hope for what may be the future. The depressing reality of this story is that we as a population have neglected this beauty gifted to us. What was once a promising addition to our earth is now landfill that we have created. However, we can still work towards preserving our oceans and saving the lives within it. By improving source reduction and encouraging eco-friendly alternatives, we may be able to revive the life of our oceans before it is too late.

The amount of packaging waste dispelled from land and into the sea has increased drastically over the last few decades. Despite what some may believe, there are several alternatives that will aid in the preservation of our oceans. These alternatives are simple modifications that can be made to your routine lifestyle. One of the ways you can minimize your packaging waste is by carrying a reusable water bottle with you. While results of studies vary, the average person will generally use about 13 plastic water bottles per month. Reducing the number of bottles used is crucial for protecting oceanic life, because sea animals can choke on plastic bottles and caps very easily. Reusable water bottles reduce the potential number of these things in our oceans.

\ Another way you can lessen the negative impact on our oceans is to bring utensils and containers from home. Owning a couple reusable containers can prove useful in several ways. For example, bringing your own container when you go out to eat means you do not need a to-go bag. Alternatively, having your own utensils that you carry with you eradicates the need for plastic ones from various fast-food places. One way to think about it is if you were to go to a restaurant and take your food to go in a bag with plastic utensils you would eat the leftovers. What may be a more daunting concept is how the remnants of your leftover bag and utensils make their way into the ocean later. It is there that they will become leftovers for unsuspecting marine life.

One alternative to using plastic grocery bags is to bring your own reusable ones. Reusable grocery bags can be crafted from a variety of materials including recycled plastic. Going grocery shopping usually means a plethora of shopping bags but using alternative grocery bags removes the need for several disposable ones. Bringing your own grocery bag is the first step, but if you really want to bump up your game you can even bring bags special for produce. These bags can be made from organic cotton or hemp and are an additional source of help for our oceans.

It is easy to become enveloped by the fallacy that one person cannot make a difference. However, this is not true even in the slightest. With the amount of plastic being released into our oceans, any step in the right direction is considered a big one. While the ocean may not be your home, it is still home to many. The ecosystems and marine life have their own story, but the ending is in our hands. By taking these little steps, our oceans may once again prosper, and their stories will continue.

Essay by: Darian E Badger
Chandler-Gilbert Community College

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